950 posts tagged with Language.
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Mi Vida Loca

Courtesy of the BBC, an award-winning mystery masquerading as a language education program. [more inside]
posted by skoosh on May 25, 2009 - 15 comments

Glyphs...in...spaaaaaaace!

What 13,500 pages micro-etched into nickel looks like. [more inside]
posted by googly on May 22, 2009 - 35 comments

O! Mesopotamia!

Rev. George Whitefield, an 18th century preacher much admired by Benjamin Franklin, was an astonishing orator. According to a contemporary source, he "could make his audiences weep or tremble merely by varying his pronunciation of the word Mesopotamia. Garrick once said, 'I would give a hundred guineas if I could only say 'O!' like Mr. Whitefield.'"
posted by lolichka on May 18, 2009 - 32 comments

Look at all the pretty words

A few weeks from now, English will have it's millionth word. Or will it? [more inside]
posted by Dumsnill on May 12, 2009 - 54 comments

The Neurobiology of Birdsong

The universal grammar of birdsong is genetically encoded. "A new study, published online in the journal Nature, shows that the songs of isolated zebra finches evolve over multiple generations to resemble those of birds in natural colonies. These findings show that song learning in birds is not purely the product of nurture, but has a strong genetic basis, and suggest that bird song has a universal grammar, or an intrinsic structure which is present at birth."
posted by homunculus on May 5, 2009 - 23 comments

Antarctica: It's a Cool Place!

Cool Antarctica is a site dedicated to all things Antarctic. There are pictures (penguins), videos (including, among much else, an old documentary about Edmund Hillary's and Vivian Fuchs' Transantarctic Expedition), a history section focusing on the famous explorers (e.g. Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton, Charcot and de Gerlache) and a fact file, which includes what may be my favorite section, an Antarctic slang dictionary (degomble: removing snow that's stuck to clothing before going inside - monk-on: a term for being in a bad, usually introspective mood, "he's got a monk-on" - poppy: alcoholic beverage that is chilled with natural Antarctic ice). All this is but a taster of what's on the website.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 29, 2009 - 20 comments

Entropic Evidence for Linguistic Structure in the Indus Script

Scholars at odds over mysterious Indus script. The Indus script is the collection of symbols found on artifacts from the Harappan civilization, which flourished in what is now eastern Pakistan and western India between 2,600 and 1,900 B.C. A new analysis using pattern-analyzing software suggests that the script may constitute a genuine written language. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Apr 23, 2009 - 20 comments

American Stonehenge

The Georgia Guidestones - Monumental Instructions for the Post-Apocalypse.
posted by Artw on Apr 21, 2009 - 44 comments

"I notice the 'wank' has remained fairly constant."

"The editor's guidelines are as follows: First, remember the reader, and respect demands that we should not casually use words that are likely to offend. Second, use such words only when absolutely necessary to the facts of a piece, or to portray a character in an article; there is almost never a case in which we need to use a swearword outside direct quotes. Third, the stronger the swearword, the harder we ought to think about using it.Finally, never use asterisks, which are just a cop-out." - Swearing in The Guardian: A chart
posted by Artw on Apr 3, 2009 - 31 comments

Learn Hebrew with Pictures and Audio

Learn Hebrew with Pictures and Audio.
posted by Effigy2000 on Mar 30, 2009 - 20 comments

What language is music?

Western musical intervals are derived from speech tendencies, according to Duke scientists. Specifically, "most of the 12 chromatic scale intervals correspond to peaks of relative power in the normalized spectrum of human vocalizations." A somewhat more layperson-friendly summary of the study is here. [more inside]
posted by univac on Mar 15, 2009 - 42 comments

Death of the dirty word

Why would an evolutionary biologist study words? It turns out there is an astonishing parallel between the evolution of words in a lexicon and the evolution of genes in an organism. The word two, for example, has been around much longer than most, and will likely be with us for millennia, whereas the comparatively rare and recent word dirty has undergone many mutations, and will probably be extinct in a few hundred years. Professor Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK, tells us why on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens. Pull slider to 16:00 to start the seven minute interview.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium on Mar 7, 2009 - 49 comments

I had always wanted to do this

Make your handwriting into a font with Yourfonts. Download the PDF, draw your alphabet, scan and upload, then download the finished result. Examples. Via Drawn!
posted by Rinku on Feb 2, 2009 - 31 comments

Speaking of sports...

The Guardian is knocked for six by American sport references in British media Creeping cultural imperialism? The effect of internet media from foreign news outlets? Or just Guardian handwringing about something no one else notices? Is British media alone in this trend?
posted by Grrlscout on Jan 20, 2009 - 111 comments

A blame game of language and depth-first search.

"It's all {Greek -> Chinese -> Heavenly Script} to me." Mark Liberman, on Language Log, recently did some quick research on how other languages would say "It's Greek to me." And created a directed graph of his findings, which were then supplemented with reader comments.
posted by shadytrees on Jan 15, 2009 - 49 comments

80 Million Tiny Images

A visualization of all the nouns in the English language arranged by semantic meaning. [NSFW words included!] [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Jan 15, 2009 - 40 comments

European and American hand fans

"It became an accessory of fashion. Status symbol like jewels, the fan had some additional advantages: you could hide behind, spy through tiny holes in the fan, swirl the fan coquettishly, or move the fan according to difficult fan language conventions, a kind of early telecommunication." [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jan 14, 2009 - 20 comments

a selcouth galimatias

International House of Logorrhea, at The Phrontistry, a free online dictionary of weird and unusual words to help enhance your vocabulary. Generous language resources, 2 and 3 letter Scrabble words l The Compass DeRose Guide to Emotion Words l all kinds of glossaries for color terms, wisdom, love and attraction, scientific instruments, manias and obsessions, feeding and eating, carriages and chariots, dance styles and all kinds of fun word stuff. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jan 11, 2009 - 12 comments

Fridge magnets in seven scripts

Fridge magnets in seven scripts – Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Cyrillic, Korean, Arabic, Devanagari. [more inside]
posted by joeclark on Jan 11, 2009 - 12 comments

English as a Shouted Language

"Conquer English to Make China Stronger!" is the philosophy of Li Yang, founder of the Crazy English school (and style) of language, described by some as "English as a Shouted Language" for its main method of shouting English words in public to overcome shyness. Li Yang has achieved Elvis-like popularity in China, not just through his public lectures but also through the sales of books, media, teaching materials, and a memoir titled "I am Crazy, I Succeed". Li Yang's unorthodox methods - which include encouraging students to "lose face" and cope with embarrassment on the way to success - have earned him fame and fortune, including headlining the 5th Beijing Foreign Language Festival and being the main English teacher for China's Olympic volunteers. Li Yang's secret to success: "... to have them continuously paying—that’s the conclusion I’ve reached."
posted by divabat on Dec 31, 2008 - 10 comments

"It's all caviar and ballons until someone backhands a cop!"

The Cliche-o-Matic: Never be at a loss for banal words again!
posted by Navelgazer on Dec 20, 2008 - 46 comments

Everything you wanted to know about pre-Columbian Central America but were afraid to ask lest your heart get ripped out and offered to Quetzalcoatl

The Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies is your one-stop shop for pre-Columbian Central America awesomeness. There are so, so many wondrous things on that site, I don't quite know where to begin. I suppose John Pohl's scholarly introduction is a natural place to start. But maybe you just don't have time to read anything and just want to dive into pretty, pretty pictures. Perhaps the most user-friendly databases are Justin Kerr's photographs Maya Vases (e.g. 1, 2, 3) and Pre-Columbian Portfolio (e.g. 1, 2a, 2b, 3). From there you can delve into the collection of Linda Schele's photographs (e.g. 1, 2) and drawings (e.g. 1, 2, 3). There are more image databases but let me direct you to the collection of old Maya, Aztec and Mixtec books which are simply stunning (e.g. 1, 2, 3, 4 [last link pdf]). You can read more about Mayan and Mixtec codices and download high resolution versions of the entire books. There are also Maya dictionaries, glyph guides, linguistic maps and a who's who. There is also classic Mayan and Aztec poetry in translation. I'm telling you, that's not even half of what this amazing site has to offer.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 29, 2008 - 19 comments

The Economist: The World in 2009

In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges, will have to learn to say "No we can't", Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees, we will judge our commitment to sustainability, scientists should research the causes of religion, we will all be potential online paparazzi, English will have more words than any other language (but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops, Iran will continue its nuclear quest while diplomacy lies in shambles, the sea floor is the new frontier, we should rethink aging, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project -- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it -- though it has some unfinished business to attend to, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom.

The Economist: The World in 2009. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 27, 2008 - 31 comments

Meh

Meh. (Previously).
posted by swift on Nov 17, 2008 - 61 comments

One Minute Languages

At One Minute Languages you can learn greetings, talking about names, counting, and more in Catalan, Danish, French, German, Irish, Japanese, Luxembourgish, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, and Russian.
posted by sveskemus on Nov 11, 2008 - 25 comments

Long Term Thinking

How far do you plan ahead? Are we careering towards another Dark Age? The Long Now Foundation (subject of many previous posts on Metafilter), has finally solved the technical problems in producing a modern day Rosetta Stone. Orders are now shipping. [more inside]
posted by Homemade Interossiter on Nov 8, 2008 - 37 comments

metaphors be with you

Link found between physical and emotional warmth l Metaphors of the Mind: Why Loneliness Feels Cold and Sins Feel Dirty. "Our mental processes are not separate and detached from the body". Sensory metaphors l The Metaphor Observatory, top 10 metaphors of 2007.
posted by nickyskye on Oct 27, 2008 - 45 comments

Stephan Kinsella's rulings on term coolness

Annoying and/or pretentious terms: "jejune", "pyjamas", "piping hot", "social justice". Cool terms: "cogitate", "cul-de-sac", "high dudgeon", "orangutan".
posted by colinmarshall on Oct 17, 2008 - 112 comments

From the original Greek, meaning 'I like big donuts'

A Brief History of English, with Chronology by Suzanne Kemmer is one of many articles at Words in English, a website designed as "a resource for those who want to learn more about this fascinating language – its history as a language, the origins of its words, and its current modern characteristics."
posted by blue_beetle on Oct 4, 2008 - 37 comments

Circus Slang for Gauchos.

Every trade has a history, a culture and secrets, all most vividly expressed in the special terms used by its workers. The circus is, of course, no different as this handy dictionary of circus slang shows. It contains entries for both American and European circuses, and has a handy list of vaudeville slang words as well. These unique words used on the carnival lot around the world demonstrate a language that defines a world of wonders, and now you can use them to impress your friends and insult your enemies!
posted by Effigy2000 on Sep 25, 2008 - 14 comments

Convey your heartworm feelings

"I love Chinglish: it constantly surprises and delights me. It refreshes our view of language, and reminds native English speakers of our own deficiencies in other languages. It also sometimes defines a wonderful characteristic of Chinese matter-of-fact-ness".
posted by flapjax at midnite on Sep 15, 2008 - 41 comments

Negating a frame activates that frame

Don't Think of a Maverick! George Lakoff offers some tips on framing to the Obama campaign.
posted by homunculus on Sep 12, 2008 - 57 comments

“The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.” –Ben Okri

"Political content aside, the discussion provided a lovely example of how a term from literary theory has established itself in American political discourse." via Language Log

"We may expect the following. Language will be carefully crafted. Advertisements will focus on personal narratives. The campaign will employ “attack” advertisements that emotionally sway voters. Policy will be sketchy with vague descriptions that emotionally satisfy Americans while offering scant details. The emphasis will be on creating narratives that resonate with the values, beliefs, and identities of prospective voters."
– Literary Gulag, on Lakoff, Nunberg, Westen, and the narrative of the 2008 presidential election. [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam on Sep 9, 2008 - 26 comments

Whatever "a good walk spoiled" would be in Korean

English, Motherduffersdo you speak it?
posted by emelenjr on Aug 27, 2008 - 34 comments

When celebrities and language collide. In Japan!

Puzzled by sugary J-Pop bands and their eccentric (and failed) TV shows? Frustrated and confused by the complexity of Japanese and want to see what your inchoate blustering looks like from the other side? Then join "perennially unpopular" gaijin celebrity Thane Camus (grand-nephew of Albert Camus), as he walks a class of fellow pop star clichés through an endearingly awkward English conversation class.
posted by Rhaomi on Aug 21, 2008 - 22 comments

Asian socities drive like this...

David Brooks, Social Psychologist, Mark Liberman at Language Log looks at the science behind David Brook's latest column in which he claims there is a fundamental differences between the thought processes of individuals in Asian "collectivist" societies and Western "individualist" ones. (via)
posted by afu on Aug 14, 2008 - 68 comments

Two effect they're effluent capitol.

Confusing Words is a collection of 3210 words that are troublesome to readers and writers. Words are grouped according to the way they are most often confused or misused.
posted by blue_beetle on Aug 11, 2008 - 76 comments

On royal curiosity and language deprivation experiments

Frederick...made linguistic experiments on the vile bodies of hapless infants, "bidding foster-mothers and nurses to suckle and bathe and wash the children, but in no wise to prattle or speak with them; for he would have learnt whether they would speak the Hebrew language (which had been the first), or Greek, or Latin, or Arabic, or perchance the tongue of their parents of whom they had been born. But he laboured in vain, for the children could not live without clappings of the hands, and gestures, and gladness of countenance, and blandishments." [more inside]
posted by voltairemodern on Aug 4, 2008 - 27 comments

You talk funny

Can you guess where my accent is from? A flash game from the Language Trainers' Group -- listen to lines of poetry recited by people from different countries and try to guess their origin.
posted by camcgee on Aug 3, 2008 - 72 comments

What's nu?

A linguist and a sociologist at Hebrew Union College have teamed up to track the inroads made into American English by words and idioms from traditionally Jewish languages, including Yiddish, Judeo-Arabic, Ladino (Judeo-Spanish), and Hebrew. They've created an online survey and are looking for people from all religious and ethnic backgrounds to answer a few questions about their word choices, phrasing, and pronunciation. They're also trying to determine whether certain linguistic quirks usually attributed to Yiddish's influence are actually carried over from Jewish ancestors' speech patterns and accents, or whether they're merely an artifact from growing up in or near New York City. [via]
posted by Asparagirl on Jul 23, 2008 - 65 comments

Kay Ryan is the new Poet Laureate

My favorite poet, Kay Ryan has been named United States Poet Laureate. [more inside]
posted by Peach on Jul 18, 2008 - 40 comments

Wordchamp: hover over a foreign-language word and get its definition

Wordchamp lets you view foreign-language web pages with definitions in your language as mouseovers (registration-only). [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jul 5, 2008 - 10 comments

Sing, Mr. Ambassador, sing!

Now that's what I call diplomacy! The US ambassador to Paraguay has become a music sensation in the country after recording an album of folk songs in the indigenous Guarani language. [more inside]
posted by flapjax at midnite on Jul 2, 2008 - 12 comments

Capitol Words - US Congress In A Word A Day

Capitol Words allows you to see what the most often used word was on any given day in the U.S Congress. [via mefi projects]
posted by Effigy2000 on Jun 21, 2008 - 23 comments

The Ethnosphere

"Cultures at the far edge of the world" (YT) and "The worldwide web of belief and ritual" (YT). Two TED talks by anthropologist and explorer Wade Davis (previously) on the diversity of the world's indigenous cultures and their beliefs, and the richness of the "Ethnosphere," which he describes as "the sum total of all thoughts and dreams, myths, ideas, inspirations, intuitions brought into being by the human imagination since the dawn of consciousness." [Via Mind Hacks]
posted by homunculus on Jun 21, 2008 - 12 comments

The "Humans of Hokkaidō" formally recognized.

Until 400 years ago, the Ainu controlled Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. Today they are a small minority group of Japan. They are a hunting and fishing people whose origins remain in dispute. Long before the people who would come to be known as "the Japanese" completed their migrations from the Asia mainland, the islands of Japan were already inhabited by a race of people known as the Ainu ("human"). On this northernmost island, (Hokkaido), in the "snow country," there still may be found remnants of this once proud and vigorous people who roamed the Japan islands long before the Japanese themselves arrived.
More links inside [more inside]
posted by dawson on Jun 6, 2008 - 35 comments

Not just for coffee shops and hair salons any more!

What, no Phở King? BWE's Top 50 Punny Store Names.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur on Jun 6, 2008 - 80 comments

I bet they hate Star Trek.

The Grammar Curmudgeon makes up for all of those snarky grammar comments we refrain from posting.
posted by sonic meat machine on Jun 1, 2008 - 31 comments

BBC's Learning English

Did you know the BBC has extensive pages on learning English?
posted by Wolfdog on May 28, 2008 - 17 comments

Errin' USA

Immediately, Herson spotted an offense—a second-floor awning outside a tarot shop that advertised "Energy Stone's." They climbed the stairs to the second floor and approached a middle-age women with a quizzical expression. "We happened to notice the sign for energy stones," Deck said, "and there happens to be an extra apostrophe. 'Stone's' doesn't need the apostrophe."

"And?" she asked, her voice flat with annoyance.

"And we wanted to bring it to your attention," Deck said.


A look inside the daring lives of Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, vanguards of the Typo Eradication Advancement League.
posted by Rhaomi on May 21, 2008 - 84 comments

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