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
posted by qwerty155
on Dec 16, 2004 -
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.
posted by painquale
on Dec 4, 2004 -
More on arithmetic in the Amazon
The 10/15 issue of Science has the official publication of Peter Gordon's work on numerical cognition among the Pirahã, and a companion article by Pierre Pica et al. on similar research among another Amazonian tribe, the Mundurukú. What with the U.S. election and the discovery of H. Floresiensis, this is not getting nearly as a much play as the pre-publication back in August of Peter Gordon's work.
Brian Butterworth has an piece
in the Guardian about both articles, and I've put some links, quotes and diagrams here
Compared to the reports on the Pirahã, the Mundurukú people, language, and experiments are all somewhat different, although the conclusions are broadly similar.
posted by myl
on Oct 31, 2004 -
Language started with emotional signaling.
That's the thesis of a new book, The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, And Intelligence Evolved From Our Primate Ancestors To Modern Humans
, by Stanley I. Greenspan and Stuart G. Shanker.
Lived emotional experience is key to language learning, the authors suggest. "Mathematicians and physicists may manipulate abstruse symbols representing space, time, and quantity, but they first understood those entities as tiny children wanting a far-away toy, or waiting for juice, or counting cookies. The grown-up genius, like the adventurous child, forms ideas through playful explorations in the imagination, only later translated into the rigor of mathematics."
The book is very ambitious, and I don't think we'll ever know
where language came from, but this sounds like a more fruitful line of thinking than Chomsky's deus ex machina
"language gene" mutation.
posted by languagehat
on Sep 29, 2004 -
Grind. Endless drudgery. Too much in your in-tray, not enough in your out-tray. You put your headphones on, but it doesn't really help. You want a distraction - just for a moment or two. "A happy employee is a productive employee" you justify to yourself, although you're not convinced. Then it happens. A 24 carat nugget of plain text escapism lands in your in-box. You're an alt-tab, double-click away from sheer bliss. DNRC
; FlipFlopFlyin Newsletter
; The Plain Text Gazette
; and the previously mentioned Snowmail
and Newsnight Newsletters
, which take a less formal but equally sharp look at the day's news, with anecdotes and observations thrown in. What other quality plain text mail lists are around?
posted by nthdegx
on Sep 29, 2004 -
Slate translates Kerry to English.
A lot of the argument lately is that Kerry doesn't really offer up a concete stand on his viewpoint. This article from William Saletan sums up what he believes Kerry is trying to say based on the speech he gave in New York earlier, and how he really stands in opposition to President Bush. Thoughts?
posted by daHIFI
on Sep 21, 2004 -
William Safire on "the izzle":
"And now, in the pages of The New York Times, there it is — a word modified with the ubiquitous izzle. Some clever Times copy editor, for a June article about Chrysler's new 300C sedan, created the headline, "Fo' Shizzle, That Big Bad Chrysler Really Does Sizzle"
. So now that the gray lady herself has been izzled from the inside, is it time for everyone to wish one last fond farewizzle and shed the shizzle? (MTV interview mentioned in the article is here
posted by taz
on Sep 21, 2004 -
Experts Study New Sign Language System A new system of sign language developed by deaf children in Nicaragua may hold clues about the evolution of languages. When the country's first school for the deaf was established in 1977, children were not taught sign language but developed a system of signs to communicate. Childhood learning may determine linguistic rules ...They found that older students used hand signals resembling the gestures employed by hearing people, mimicking the entire event physically. But younger pupils - who had interacted with other deaf children from an early age - used a more complex series of signs. They split the scene into component parts and arranged these sequentially to convey the incident. The constructions resemble the way words and sentences are built in verbal languages, using segments structured in a linear fashion. This indicates that way the younger children learnt the sign language helped reshape it according to these linguistic rules.
posted by y2karl
on Sep 18, 2004 -
Sure, it's just more Bush-bashing,
but it's gussied up durn pretty. Philip Gourevitch on Bushspeak.
He is grossly underestimated as an orator by those who presume that good grammar, rigorous logic, and a solid command of the facts are the essential ingredients of political persuasion, and that the absence of these skills indicates a lack of intelligence. Although Bush is no intellectual, and proud of it, he is quick and clever, and, for all his notorious malapropisms, abuses of syntax, and manglings or reinventions of vocabulary, his intelligence is—if not especially literate—acutely verbal.
posted by grrarrgh00
on Sep 10, 2004 -
It's our language, not yours.
So, you were born in an English-speaking country founded by the English, speak English, have a degree in English, write and publish in English, have lived in England for years, and would like to become an English citizen? Sorry, you failed our English test to determine whether you have workable English, so you can't be English.
posted by rory
on Aug 19, 2004 -
English Accents and Dialects.
The British Library has compiled an online archive of northern speech dating back to the 19th century. The recordings range from from audio from Victorian cylinder dictaphones to 1950s football fans chanting.
posted by Masi
on Aug 1, 2004 -
Should Gaelic be an official EU language?
As a happy member of the SCA
I promise to revise all my past snarkiness and negative thinking about the EU if this happens. I will read
(ploddingly and with a dictionary) all those speeches by Chirac and Schroder--as soon as they're translated into Gaelic. If Maltese
can be an EU language of diplomacy, why not Gaelic? While the world around us rages, we'll return to the Middle Ages. (From crookedtimber)
posted by jfuller
on Jun 25, 2004 -
Europe's oldest language?
Kalevi Wiik makes the argument that most of Europe may have spoken a proto Finno-Ugric language before the appearance of Indo-European speakers in the region. It's still controversial a few years after the paper was published (and likely always will be).
Modern European derivitives of the language in question are Hungarian
, the Ugric branch's sole representative in Europe, (although it has relatives in central Asia), as well as the Finnic Finnish
(which is considered by some to be a dialect of Finnish and not a separate language), Izhora
(which are both disputed in language v. dialect and are nearly dead), Vod
(which is dead), Liv (which is dead and doesn't Google well), and the Saami languages
, which have about 10 dialects and a sufficiently different grammar and lexicon that it gets the "strange cousin" title.
posted by Mayor Curley
on Jun 15, 2004 -
If you don't like dictionary posts, look away, NOW!
But if you like to play with words, the dictionarians at Merriam-Webster
have announced the winners in their poll for the Ten Favorite Words for 2004
Also, a list of runners-up with more of my personal faves: oxymoron, copacetic, curmudgeon, conundrum,
euphemism, superfluous, and of course, Smock! Smock! Smock!
posted by wendell
on Jun 12, 2004 -
have been around for centuries, and this website attempts to collect them all (2,295 so far) and explain their origins. May not be SFW if someone is reading over your shoulder.
posted by whoshotwho
on May 27, 2004 -
to capitalize a deity? As far as I know Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic and the modern descendants of Sanskrit use no capital letters, so for those languages the point is moot. I can’t speak for too many of the other language families
, but I don’t know of any syllabaries
that use majuscules
, so the question seems to be most relevant to the alphabetic languages that use capitals such as the Latin, Greek and Germanic families (including English). Some people
even completely capitalize the name of their deity, apparently disdaining minuscules
posted by snarfodox
on Apr 8, 2004 -
Dictionary of the Scots Language.
The two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language, the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue
(DOST) and the Scottish National Dictionary
(SND), have been combined into one searchable online edition:
Thus, information on the earliest uses of Scots words can be presented alongside examples of the later development and, in some cases, current usage of the same words. In this way, we hope that the DSL will allow users to appreciate the continuity and historical development of the Scots language. By making the DSL freely available on the Internet, we also aim to widen access to the source dictionaries and to open up these rich lexicographic resources to anyone with an interest in Scots language and culture.
posted by languagehat
on Apr 2, 2004 -