The Image Culture
- a discussion of the history, manipulation, desensitization and supplanting of language skills by the ubiquity of images. And no, there are no pretty pictures.
a LAME FITTER, FALTER ITEM and A FELT TIMER. We need some MATT RELIEF. Fun with anagrams
"May you be like a lamp: hang by day, burn by night and be snuffed out in the morning."
Welcome to the long tradition of Yiddish curses
. According to one scholar of insults
: Curses in other languages differ from Yiddish in both content and style...Anglo-Saxon cultures prefer insults dealing with excrement and body parts, Catholic countries are partial to blasphemy, and cultures of the Middle and Far East go for ancestor insults, while Yiddish curses have a baroque splendor.
A bunch more examples are here
A whole other newt
with an ekename
I was looking up the origin of "nother" and learned about the phenomenon known as word misdivisions
. Color me educated.
Forbes special report on communication.
A truckload of excellent articles and interview excerpts! Noam Chomsky
on the spontaneous invention of language. Carl Zimmer
on talking chimps. Jane Goodall
on why words hurt. Arthur C. Clarke
on the planetary conversation. Kurt Vonnegut
on telling a story. Desmond Morris
on symbolic gestures. Sid Meier
on communicating with video games. David Copperfield
on keeping secrets. Stan Lee
on the superpower of comics. Steven Pinker
on why we have language. Walter Cronkite
on the language of news. Daniel Libeskind
on the language of design. And much more!
Charming and unexpected vocabulary from many languages.
Why did Persians need a word, alghunjar
, to express 'the feigned anger of a mistress'? Could there really have been that many insincere mistresses in Persia? Why does Russia need a word meaning, 'dealer in stolen cats'? Or 'someone with six fingers'? And who can resist the Chinese xiaoxiao
, meaning, 'the whistling and pattering of rain or wind'? "These are more than funny foreign vocabularies; they are tiny windows into the way other people live, and the obsessions that drive them." [via]
A Sub by any other name....
has put together a little survey
of American as she is spoke. The survey covers a myriad of areas
and the results wind up on some really interesting maps
It's on going, so feel free to take the challenge
Explosion Over the N-Word
When Kanye West blasted President Bush’s treatment of poor black people in New Orleans after Katrina hit, the rapper unintentionally set off a hurricane of words in Florida.
The Independent Florida Alligator, the student newspaper, ran a cartoon last week that criticized West’s statements by showing him holding a large playing card marked “The Race Card,” and having Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, exclaim with scorn at West: “Nigga Please!”
'Spare Don Watson, author of Death Sentences from all of these weasely, wishy-washy, and worst of all, ugly bits of management-speak that have drifted out of consulting sessions and into the social realm.' Forbes.com.....................
Your favourite spin doctoring ?
is a problem that often prevents doctors from treating immigrant patients effectively. Language and cultural barriers prevent patients from understanding doctors instructions, sharing their symptoms of illness, and even from being examined by the doctor in cases where religious beliefs prohibit contact with someone of the opposite gender.
English as she is spoke
: Infamous as the world's most ludicrously inept foreign phrasebook, the misbegotten work of Jose da Fonseca and Pedro Carolino was revived in a new edition by the Collins Library in March 2002. Some background
by Columbia Journalism Review, is incredibly helpful when it comes to learning the English language's subtle nuances and rather obvious rules.
Subtitles on the radio.
Last night Radio 1, the BBC's flagship youth station, broadcast an hour of Welsh language music and chat. The webcast includes subtitles.
A picture of English nouns
is a map of 33,000 English nouns. Each tiny rectangle corresponds to a noun. The color of the rectangle has been assigned a color, based on an internet image search for that noun. The words are clustered so that similar words are near each other. Gallery
. (Java required)
As of today, the German language has changed
, ending a 10 year state of flux which has seen new spelling rules mixed with the old ones. Under the new system, "extremely long compound words have been broken up, comma rules have been simplified, and in many cases a double-S replaces the old letter sign for the sound, which resembles a capital B."
But given the strong resistance to the new rules from some in the German community, it may be a little premature to add the old German language to to the list of lost languages
(previously discußed here
) just yet.
Anyway, for Mefite linguaphiles interested in this significant and now seemingly permanent change to the German language, check out the German spelling reform timeline
Walter Miller's homepage
Picked up recently via kottke.org
, this is a years-old webpage (not updated recently) detailing the miserable details of poor Walter's white trash existence. It deserves to be read by a whole new generation. The art of misspelling is taken to new heights.
There are 7 words you can't say in kindergarden.
Caution: contains foul language and political thought.
El Indio in Hispanic proverbial speech
"The proverbial speech of Hispanic America preserves, even today, numerous traces of the interaction between explorers, conquerors, or settlers and the native populations they found in the various regions of the so-called New World"
:: 1 : a trite phrase or expression; also : the idea expressed by it; 2 : a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation; 3 : something (as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace
Are dictionaries the realm of the elite and the educated?
For a change of pace, there is an extensive dictionary of Russian swears
with hundreds of words translated into French
.. Oh and it's also two way - French swears
and German swears
are both translated into Russian. [More Inside]
What Does That Mean
explains what it means to be having a blue
or to be loaded for bear
. This is a newish wiki site, so could use some more content. Me? I'm off to get something from the chilly bin
and then I may add some regional idioms of my own...
International Onomatopoeic Sounds [Note: You must have sound for this to be cool]
Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby So you’ve got to know that synergy doesn’t actually mean synergy in this book. I can’t do normal synergy. No, in this book, synergy means cartoon foxes. What I’m saying is: this book will be starting off with an exorbitant amount of cartoon foxes.
And I will be counting on you to turn them into synergy.
Possibly the funniest computer programming book ever written.
Could I interest you in a Chocolate Collon?
And would you like a cool can of Plussy
to wash it down? If you're looking for a fun book to read
, or anything else
has it in stock.
Learn Brit-Speak British Airways
wants to help Americans understand "Brit-Speak". Of course you've always wanted to know what pants, snog, squiz and lurgy mean, but as a marketing strategy
? annoying flash interface, but all 72 items inside
are a distinct ethnic people who live in the Russian territory of Karelia, on the border with Finland. They are also scattered throughout the Leningrad and Vologda regions of Russia. Before many were assimiliated to Russian, the Vepsa spoke their own distinct variant of Finno-Ugric. [See more inside]
French In Action is now available for free, online
. (click on the "VoD" link to the right of each episode; free registration required
) Long a staple of high school French classes and late-night PBS broadcasts, French In Action
is notable for teaching French without translating it; meaning is made clear through context and repetition. It's an approach some people find useless
and others consider "so excellent it almost justifies the invention of television
". If you'd rather learn Spanish, there's Destinos
and for German, there's Fokus Deutsch
--but neither one features Valérie Allain, subject of intense fascination
(and occasionally creepy obsession
.) ( Unfortunately, free streaming of French in Action doesn't seem to be available outside the US and Canada; Destinos and Fokus Deutsch have no such restrictions.
Lauris is the spirit of the office, irrespective weather those are the numerous jokes for any occasion he has in his luggage or a basket of autumn apples, which he has picked in the morning to remind the colleges about the beauty of the autumn.
Zane has chosen to live in a beautiful world of internal and external beauty, where fragrances and aromas are of importance, however the uppermost value are harmonious relations with the closest people.
We are all fans of mangled English translations
, but there is a certain added beauty in this site for a Latvian law firm, which boasts "professional, fast and qualitative translations" while "introducing a spirit of poetics in the daily routine of the office"
A tool that turns English into computer code?
Maybe someday. Metafor
is a code visualizer from researchers at MIT
which produces non-executable (but meaningfully-structured) code out of natural language. Here
is a quicktime demonstration of what it looks like in action. Here's the paper
as a PDF.
For your friday flash fun, a game about...linguistics? Learn a language, have some fun. Now if only I could figure out how to work that damn oven....
"BATMAN - We've got to stop the joker! Those boner
crimes are making us look bad! And I'm worried about the boner
he's readying for YOU!" (slightly related
) (Via Radosh.net)
Frank Luntz GOP Playbook Now Online: No Downloads, Searchable Text
I can't stress enough the importance of reading this document. It is absolutely amazing how politicos co-opted so much of our language and led us down the path to THEIR agenda.
Unfortunately, the monstrous PDF file previously available for download made that a 'challenging' endeavor. Thus, I thought it was very important to bring to everybody's attention the existence of an online, readable, searchable, text version of Frank Luntz’s Playbook. It is a masterpiece of manipulation and an historic political document.
Early Modern Texts. Versions of some classics of early modern philosophy, prepared with a view to making them easier to read while leaving the main arguments, doctrines, and lines of thought intact.
Recently added: John Locke's Second Treatise of Government
. Via Crooked Timber.
Is your favorite swear word
losing its potency
? Stock up on some new ones with the Swearsaurus,
a "vast array of swearing, profanity, obscenity, blasphemy, cursing, cussing, and insulting in a massive 165 languages"
The Eggcorn Database
. A previous post
the lack of a "proper repository" for examples of these bemusing
, off-repeated folk etymologies
. Until now, finding the latest news in eggcorns
has merely been
a French benefit
of pouring over
the new posts at LanguageLog
. The Eggcorn Database puts them all at your beckoned call
. Another words
, the days of getting balked down
in other stupid ideas
while looking for the latest finds are over. The Eggcorn Database already catalogs over 100 examples
, replete with antidotal
usages and collaborating evidence
for eggcorn status. An overview for the lame man
The State of the Union Parsing Tool
is an interactive transcript and visualization of the last five State of the Union addresses, and a special address given to Congress on Sept. 20, 2001. Noteworthy features are a great interface and the ability to highlight the use of arbitrary and specific phrases. For instance: Iraq vs. Afghanistan
, liberty vs. freedom
, health care vs. social security
, and the lone appearance of 'axis of evil
(that's Welsh, I'll leave the interpreting to you) - a comprehensive guide to swearing in 165 languages. This probably offers the most appeal to the younger crowd, subverting
classroom etiquette undetected--but it's not without its draw for the inebriated
It may also be a good idea to cross check your business name
before going global. A representative of AmaCorp
visiting Japan is likely to catch a few odd looks.
Do you speak American?
The companion website to a PBS series, full of interactive language and dialect tools. You can map your attitudes
about regional correctness, guess the speaker's home
, learn about American varieties
, track the history of certain words
, hear samples of regional dialects
, and more.
Further reading: Dialect Map of American English
's local terms, and this collection of local phrases
Previously on MetaFilter: The Dialect Survey (and results), The Speech Accent Archive, Pop vs. Soda.
Looking for ohibitutic
words, but need something a little more rhymmeal
might just be the tingulen
Onomatopoeia around the world.
Wonder no more how a cow's moo sounds in Japan, or a car's engine revs in China.
Es wie wie dies und wie das und wie dies, und.
Vibrant demonstration of why your favorite hip-hop artist is unlikely to be German
Link via little black dada cat
Josh Greeham argues on Slate that we're in need of the Sarcasm point
. In this new internet world of smilies
and bad grammar
there seems to be a need for new ways
to express oursleves. So much so, that people are even patenting the questioning comma
. Even the humorists are getting in on the act.
. And whatever you do, don't tell interrobang.
Professor Stephen Roberds,
Southern Utah University's controversial
Professor of the Year 2003-2004, you're fucking fired
A right that ends in sorrow
, aka the difficulty of standing up for something that really sucks. (via Amy Sullivan
Collins Word Exchange
"At Collins we pride ourselves on reflecting current language, used by real English speakers across the world."
Collins have launched a public forum designed for (amongst other things) discussing 'new' words and the legitamacy of their inclusion in official dictionaries. Chav
is probably on its way, but I'm no intellectual snob, but bounce-backability
? Even I'd balk at that one.
And, just remember kids, flip-flopper
is not valid for use in scrabble
Etymology-wise, which hormone is an island? What word both denotes a prime and euphemizes Satan? What word denotes "the future" and abbreviates the unknown? Is urine pith? These are some of the questions from "Moot: The World's Toughest Language Game
," a homemade and little-known board game for lovers of words. Some puzzles
are available online; there are a few more available on a page detailing the interesting story
behind the game's creation. You can sign up
to have a new language puzzle e-mailed to you every week.