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Willy Safizzle discovers the izzle; milkshake not far behind?

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 - 33 comments

The birth of a [sign] language

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.
............... Fascinating... /Mr. Spock
posted by y2karl on Sep 18, 2004 - 20 comments

Verbal, if not literate.

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 - 87 comments

Eggcorn-ucopia

Just a hand-few of eggcorns grows a forest? Among the pursuits of linguistics blog Language Log is the examination of certain quasi-spelling errors appropriately dubbed eggcorns. Not quite results of folk etymology, they nonetheless possess a certain inner logic that invites their recurring use as well as their analysis.

No proper repository exists yet; enter 'eggcorn' into the site's search engine to view the growing harvest.
posted by LinusMines on Aug 26, 2004 - 31 comments

DO - YOU - SPEAK - ENG-LISH...

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 - 38 comments

By Gum, I divvent!

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 - 10 comments

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. -- Mark Twain

Oxymorons
posted by anastasiav on Jul 23, 2004 - 36 comments

One for the cybersouses

Drunk Talk. Modern Drunkard's new crop of bar slang.
posted by Ufez Jones on Jul 21, 2004 - 14 comments

Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary

Sequoyah's Cherokee Syllabary
The history of a man who single-handedly invented a new and unique writing system which made the literacy rate of his nation shoot from 0% to 90% in just a few years.

Original source
posted by magullo on Jul 15, 2004 - 4 comments

Blissymbolics ~ Handywrite ~ Teeline ~ Gregg ~ Pitman

A Guide to Alternative Handwriting and Shorthand Systems
posted by anastasiav on Jul 5, 2004 - 8 comments

N-I-G-G-E-R

Cable channel Trio drops the N-bomb An original documentary, premiering tonight, takes a close look at a troublesome word.
posted by LinusMines on Jul 4, 2004 - 21 comments

Bhí Pádraig agus Michéal sa teach tabhairne

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 - 27 comments

The Hills Are Alive With The Semantics of Music

Tunes create context like language : "musical notes are strung together in the same patterns as words in a piece of literature". Full paper. On a related note, hone your musical comprehension by playing with Impromptu. Better yet, co-ordinate it with this MIT OpenCourse - Developing Musical Structures.
posted by Gyan on Jun 22, 2004 - 21 comments

One person’s gaffe is another’s peccadillo

Common Errors In English :: an internet guide
posted by anastasiav on Jun 20, 2004 - 117 comments

The Limerick packs jokes anatomical ...

Wordcraft, an on-line community of linguaphiles, best known for its extensive collection of eponyms, has taken on a new and fairly ambitious project -- they're trying to rewrite the entire Oxford English Dictionary -- in limerick form. So far they're only on the a's, but they do seem optimistic.
Shamelessly stolen from languagehat's blog
posted by anastasiav on Jun 18, 2004 - 7 comments

The Web's #1 Axe In My Head Page

"Oh my god! There's an axe in my head"
posted by anastasiav on Jun 15, 2004 - 21 comments

Kiitos, Kalevi!

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, Estonian, Karelian (which is considered by some to be a dialect of Finnish and not a separate language), Izhora and Veps (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 - 58 comments

Speak Deutsch?

Being Bilingual Protects Against Some Age-related Cognitive Changes.
Full paper link.
posted by Gyan on Jun 14, 2004 - 20 comments

Onomatopoeia, gee it's good to see ya!

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:
defenestration, serendipity, onomatopoeia, discombobulate, plethora, callipygian, juxtapose, persnickety, kerfuffle and flibbertigibbet
Also, a list of runners-up with more of my personal faves: oxymoron, copacetic, curmudgeon, conundrum, euphemism, superfluous, and of course, Smock! Smock! Smock!
[more inside] Via vidiot.
posted by wendell on Jun 12, 2004 - 41 comments

Head-butt

Give me a Glasgow kiss! The OED's newest English words. Glasgow kiss, n. [ Glasgow, the name of a city in west central Scotland + KISS n., in humorous allusion to the reputation for violence accorded to some parts of the city. Cf. earlier Liverpool kiss s.v. LIVERPOOL n.] A head-butt.
posted by mfoight on Jun 10, 2004 - 19 comments

Here's one for Languagehat

Double-Tongued Word Wrester :: Words from the fringes of English
posted by anastasiav on Jun 4, 2004 - 5 comments

And you thought your mother was naughty

Racial Slurs 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 - 18 comments

Ye Olde Writings

AncientScripts.com : discover introductions to more than 70 ancient and modern writing systems, from LinearB to hPhags-pa to Cherokee. View languages by type, family, or region. Many links to further reading on each subject, plus other goodies.
posted by falconred on May 7, 2004 - 3 comments

It's a sign!

Baby Sign Language. Hearing children can learn to sign before they can talk. Parents can use ASL, or make up their own language.
posted by Karmakaze on May 4, 2004 - 67 comments

Forthright's Phrontistery

Forthright's Phrontistery: English word lists and language resources.
posted by hama7 on May 3, 2004 - 4 comments

Jingle Bells! Batman smells!

The Online Dictionary of Playground Slang. Includes not just slang words, but also all those obnoxious rhymes we sang. "My little Pony, skinny and bony..."
posted by Robot Johnny on Apr 29, 2004 - 4 comments

How NOT to write metaphors

"She was as easy as the Daily Star crossword," and other allegedly actual similes and metaphors from student essays, mangled like pigeons on Baltimore light rail tracks.
posted by brownpau on Apr 22, 2004 - 29 comments

TPM on the importance of words

This is precisely the sort of inane mumbojumbo that will -- perhaps literally -- get us all killed....The importance of words is a conceit of wordsmiths, certainly. But they are important -- especially when they bleed through into thought and action, which happens more often than you'd think.,

TPM is becoming almost too widely-read to be postworthy, but Josh really puts things into perspective with this post. For an example of what all this jingoistic gibberish can result in, see the post below it.
posted by jpoulos on Apr 15, 2004 - 63 comments

"I am of Ireland, and the Holy Land of Ireland..."

CELT, the Corpus of Electronic Texts, "brings the wealth of Irish literary and historical culture to the Internet, for the use and benefit of everyone worldwide. It has a searchable online database consisting of contemporary and historical texts from many areas, including literature and the other arts." It has texts in Irish, Latin, Anglo-Norman French, and English, ranging from the annals of the fifth century to the Agreement reached in the Multi-Party Negotiations in Northern Ireland of 1998. "Great my glory/ I that bore Cuchulainn the valiant..."
posted by languagehat on Apr 11, 2004 - 5 comments

Fetchi

A dictionary of Japanese pornography terms. After you've mastered the theory, you can read about it in greater detail, then test your knowledge. (First link SFW if no one's reading over your shoulder, others N.)
posted by kenko on Apr 11, 2004 - 9 comments

Are you shouting?

To capitalize or not 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 or abugidas 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 completely.
posted by snarfodox on Apr 8, 2004 - 6 comments

Muckle bonnie wirds

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 - 13 comments

May be locally applicable.

Charles Miller's Rules of Arguments (via dive into mark).
posted by timeistight on Mar 24, 2004 - 9 comments

OED new words

F-word now a word, as well as : twelve-incher, sheepshagger, and old man of the woods! The newest real English words now in the OED.
posted by mfoight on Mar 22, 2004 - 10 comments

100 Most Mispronounced Words

100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English.
posted by hama7 on Mar 20, 2004 - 83 comments

to blathe, or not to blathe

Part dictionary, part literature. Often intensely personal, sometimes quite creepy. Not quite Wiki, and not wholly a forum. Must be Blather.
posted by kaibutsu on Mar 7, 2004 - 4 comments

F-Worded on the Radio

Screw Howard Stern. But Save Sandra Tsing Loh!
The radio culture wars have claimed an unlikely victim, and an unlikely victimizer (America's favorite NPR station, KCRW).
posted by wendell on Mar 5, 2004 - 33 comments

Sowing One's Wild Oats

Sowing One's Wild Oats And Postponing Last Straws: Some things never change the world over and the gist of this amusing language lesson (be sure to listen to the sountrack too) seems familiar and even easy to guess. However, different cultures allow for different rates of growing up - and out of things. Regarding the sowing of wild oats, is the West really the most lenient and generous, in terms of age-limits? What part does religion play? In other words, what's the maximum you can get away with nowadays? At a pinch, I'd say Southern European Catholic countries will extend a woman's visa till she's 35 and a man's till he's 40 but certain *cough* other cultures seem to be even more favourable towards eternal adolescence.
posted by MiguelCardoso on Jan 31, 2004 - 18 comments

Rongorongo!

Rongorongo! Say it twice -- don't it feel nice? Most people think of the enigmatic maoi when they think of Easter Island but an equally vexing mystery is found in twenty-six wooden objects which contain pictographic symbols comprising...what? A language? A mnemomic system for recording stories now long forgotten? A resource for modern primitives' tribal tatoos? We could ask, but the authors are long-gone -- the victims of hard times -- leaving only a few tablets and a bunch of carved stone to puzzle over.
posted by Ogre Lawless on Jan 19, 2004 - 5 comments

American Dialect Society's 2003 Words of the Year

ass-hat: noun, a thoughtless or stupid person.
cliterati: collective noun, feminist or woman-oriented writers or opinion-leaders.
flexitarian: noun, a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat.
freegan: noun, person who eats only what they can get for free.

Some winners from the American Dialect Society's 2003 Words of the Year.
posted by y2karl on Jan 16, 2004 - 30 comments

Here's one for Languagehat!

Ask A Linguist is designed to be a place where anyone interested in language or linguistics can ask a question and get the response of a panel of professional linguists. Be sure to browse their archived questions (with answers, of course).
posted by anastasiav on Jan 12, 2004 - 10 comments

the language boom

Language tree rooted in Turkey.
posted by the fire you left me on Dec 7, 2003 - 28 comments

Ever wonder who still speaks latin?

Ever wonder who still speaks latin? So it seems like the vanishingly small number of native latin speakers seem to work all for one outfit. They all also seem to be British.
posted by MrLint on Dec 1, 2003 - 22 comments

The Continuing Adventures of Alex The African Grey Parrot

So we put a number of differently colored letters on the tray that we use, put the tray in front of Alex, and asked, ''Alex, what sound is blue?'' He answers, ''Ssss.'' It was an ''s'', so we say ''Good birdie'' and he replies, ''Want a nut.'' Well, I don't want him sitting there using our limited amount of time to eat a nut, so I tell him to wait, and I ask, ''What sound is green?'' Alex answers, ''Ssshh.'' He's right, it's ''sh,'' and we go through the routine again: ''Good parrot.'' ''Want a nut.'' ''Alex, wait. What sound is orange?'' ''ch.'' ''Good bird!'' ''Want a nut.'' We're going on and on and Alex is clearly getting more and more frustrated. He finally gets very slitty-eyed and he looks at me and states, ''Want a nut. Nnn, uh, tuh.'' - That Damn Bird - A Talk with Irene Pepperberg. Referential Communication with an African Gray Parrot. Irene Pepperberg says that Arthur, an African Gray parrot, is so smart that she and a group of students at the Media Lab are teaching him to go online. A more subjective take on some more African Grey parrots here. The Alex Homepage. Alex interviewed. languagehat on talking parrots.
posted by y2karl on Nov 29, 2003 - 34 comments

No Food Says Fun Like 'Happy Crak' Popcorn!

Rude Food - from that old English classic spotted dick to more unusual offerings like bum bum bananas, Erektus energy drink, and Prick potato crisps, here's a wonderful collection of worldwide food items that bring out the giggling 12-year-old boy in all of us.
posted by anastasiav on Nov 26, 2003 - 9 comments

... Shenanigans ... Antidisestablishmentarianism ... Medulla Oblongata ... Zog ...

Dave's List of Words That Are Fun To Say
posted by anastasiav on Nov 25, 2003 - 141 comments

Politically correct hardware terminology:

LA County, leading the charge: Equipment vendors who do business with Los Angeles County received a message in November 2003 from the county's Internal Services Department (ISD) informing them that "based on the cultural diversity and sensitivity of Los Angeles County," labeling or describing equipment with the term 'master/slave' is no longer acceptable. (via snopes.com)
the slashdot comments on this...
posted by sixtwenty3dc on Nov 25, 2003 - 145 comments

How To Attract The 18-34 Crowd: Say

Oh fuck! Are you interested? Let me guess: you're 18 to 34 years old, right? Oh it's a dandy little word, for sure. But is it enough? Here's yet another brilliant marketing idea dreamt up by the 35-50 thoroughly fucked-up Texan reader-research crowd! [Via Arts and Letters Daily.]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Nov 22, 2003 - 23 comments

Santorum

Santorum. Dan Savage is a man on a mission: he wants his coinage of "santorum" to go all the way to the top of a Google search for "santorum", and he's calling on bloggers to help him do it. The comments of Senator Santorum (R-Homophobia) on the Supreme Court's anti-sodomy case were previously discussed here.
posted by UKnowForKids on Nov 20, 2003 - 25 comments

Bowlingal - Dog bark analyser

Bowlingal is a dog bark translator. Discuss. (Flash link)
posted by omidius on Nov 17, 2003 - 33 comments

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