858 posts tagged with Language.
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Portrait of English

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)
posted by jikel_morten on Aug 14, 2005 - 30 comments

Lost In Reformation.

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.
posted by Effigy2000 on Aug 3, 2005 - 54 comments

Poor Walter

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.
posted by Holly on Jul 30, 2005 - 11 comments

Naughty!

There are 7 words you can't say in kindergarden. Caution: contains foul language and political thought.
posted by growabrain on Jul 16, 2005 - 41 comments

somos indios?

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"
posted by dhruva on Jul 11, 2005 - 6 comments

The Sprawl of Y'all

The use of "y'all" is slowly but steadily gaining acceptance in standard English far outside . . . 'the South'. Why is it becoming so popular, when other . . . southernisms show no such acceptance? Language is a fluid thing.
posted by spock on Jul 10, 2005 - 265 comments

Language Is a Virus

Language Is a Virus
posted by srboisvert on Jul 8, 2005 - 30 comments

The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey

The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-words.
posted by nthdegx on Jul 4, 2005 - 47 comments

'Unlimited ammo - You’re not John Woo, so start counting the bullets. Only He has this right!'

cli·ché :: 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
posted by anastasiav on Jun 25, 2005 - 42 comments

Are dictionaries the realm of the elite and the educated?

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 and German .. Oh and it's also two way - French swears and German swears are both translated into Russian. [More Inside]
posted by gregb1007 on Jun 20, 2005 - 12 comments

Wiki site for English idioms, words

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...
posted by Fozzie on Jun 20, 2005 - 31 comments

the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it (as buzz, hiss)

International Onomatopoeic Sounds
[Note: You must have sound for this to be cool]
posted by anastasiav on Jun 7, 2005 - 12 comments

A poignant book, tenderly written

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.
posted by carmen on Jun 3, 2005 - 17 comments

Don't burn the fire chief!

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, Engrish has it in stock.
posted by Citizen Premier on May 23, 2005 - 11 comments

Learn Brit-Speak

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
posted by quiet on May 7, 2005 - 81 comments

The Vepsa

The Vepsa 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]
posted by gregb1007 on May 3, 2005 - 14 comments

Utile pour apprendre le français

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.)
posted by yankeefog on Apr 25, 2005 - 43 comments

I enjoy making fire, because it makes people feel warm

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 from Asia, 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".
posted by szechuan on Apr 13, 2005 - 11 comments

Warning: James Joyce may cause system crash

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.
posted by Hildago on Mar 25, 2005 - 26 comments

What are they saying!?

TORK! 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....
posted by jearbear on Mar 25, 2005 - 31 comments

It's not the Greatest Boner... but it is BATMAN'S Greatest Boner.

"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)
posted by soyjoy on Mar 17, 2005 - 27 comments

Everyone Who Cares About the Future of America Should Read This Political Playbook

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.
posted by jb_thms on Mar 3, 2005 - 85 comments

Classics of Early Modern Philosophy, translated.

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.
posted by monju_bosatsu on Feb 28, 2005 - 6 comments

I'll see you in MetaTalk, supak!

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"
posted by Quartermass on Feb 27, 2005 - 21 comments

Take this with a grain assault

The Eggcorn Database. A previous post noted 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 is here.
posted by casu marzu on Feb 24, 2005 - 15 comments

State of the State of the Union

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.'
posted by fatllama on Feb 3, 2005 - 10 comments

Multilingual Swearing

Malu cachu (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.
posted by ThePrawn on Jan 27, 2005 - 14 comments

Dialecty goodness

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 [image], Slanguage's local terms, and this collection of local phrases.
Previously on MetaFilter: The Dialect Survey (and results), The Speech Accent Archive, Pop vs. Soda.
posted by stopgap on Jan 20, 2005 - 13 comments

A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.

Looking for ohibitutic and purspermal words, but need something a little more rhymmeal? Cromulac might just be the tingulen you're spranning for.
posted by Robot Johnny on Jan 7, 2005 - 17 comments

International Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia around the world. Wonder no more how a cow's moo sounds in Japan, or a car's engine revs in China.
posted by Oriole Adams on Dec 26, 2004 - 14 comments

Es wie wie dies und wie das und wie dies, und..

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.
posted by dickumbrage on Dec 25, 2004 - 24 comments

A need for new punctuation?

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.
posted by seanyboy on Dec 22, 2004 - 48 comments

No Fucking Tenure For You!

Professor Stephen Roberds, Southern Utah University's controversial Professor of the Year 2003-2004, you're fucking fired.
posted by mr_crash_davis on Dec 16, 2004 - 89 comments

Pro-nuance

A right that ends in sorrow, aka the difficulty of standing up for something that really sucks. (via Amy Sullivan)
posted by alms on Dec 16, 2004 - 73 comments

Word play

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 - 8 comments

To the French, it is the flower that thinks; what do the English call it?

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 - 8 comments

Slanguage

Safire's latest list of slang
posted by srboisvert on Dec 3, 2004 - 91 comments

Awkwardfulness is. Long is not

Pentasyllabic is. Edible is not. Some words refer to themselves, some do not - an introduction to the paradox of language and a way to amaze your easily-amazed friends. In a similar vein, you may already test yourself by using e-prime, but do you know the thirty-two eskimo words for snow?
posted by blahblahblah on Nov 30, 2004 - 98 comments

Losing Languages

Losing Languages. It's estimated that between one and four languages are lost every year, the result of the only remaining speakers dying off. Many have been actively surpressed in the past, such as the Mayan and Ryukyu languages - some of which are said to be further from Japanese than English is from German. Is it worth the effort to preserve languages? Are languages and culture intristically linked?
posted by borkingchikapa on Nov 28, 2004 - 57 comments

A Mother for Your Mind

The British Council polls non-English speakers for the seventy most beautiful English words. Mother comes out on top (as ever), with lullaby, oi (my favourite), and — bizarrely — hen night also appearing. I much prefer the examples of Wilfred Funk (and others): dawn, chalice and gossamer, for instance [source origin]. Beautiful words can be combined to form beautiful phrases and sometimes more. German words are also beautiful; habseligkeiten (meaning property), and such. Words can also be curious, people have observed; but also be truly awful, as a quick search of the phrases "global experience" and "leading edge" will attest.
posted by nthdegx on Nov 25, 2004 - 58 comments

More on arithmetic in the Amazon

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 - 19 comments

It all starts by looking a baby right in the eyes

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 - 32 comments

English to English

The Internet's Most Accurate English-to-English Dictionary This internet service will translate any English word, phrase or passage into English, or vice versa. Your original grammar, style, and spelling are left intact!
posted by adampsyche on Sep 29, 2004 - 21 comments

Gleemail

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; A.Word.A.Day; 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 - 6 comments

For those of you in the 'Anyone but Bush' camp.

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 - 32 comments

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

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