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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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 -
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.
the slashdot comments
posted by sixtwenty3dc
on Nov 25, 2003 -