976 posts tagged with Language.
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The McGurk Effect

HaggardHawks demonstrates the McGurk Effect [more inside]
posted by unliteral on Feb 15, 2016 - 17 comments

Positive Lexicography

Dr. Tim Lomas is creating a positive cross-cultural lexicography: an evolving index of expressions from many languages for positive emotional states and concepts pertaining to well-being. Most do not have immediate English equivalents. View by Alphabet, Language or Theme. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 29, 2016 - 21 comments

Spreadsheets for Developers

Thinking about learning a new programming language? How about a functional language with support for test-driven development and a snazzy visual interface, already deployed on millions of computers around the world? I'm speaking, of course, about Excel. In a 2014 Strange Loop talk, Felienne discusses the virtues of the Excel programming language (which is Turing complete, if you were wondering).
posted by jedicus on Jan 26, 2016 - 73 comments

The language is completely case insensitive

Code with TrumpScript, and make programming great again.
posted by Gin and Broadband on Jan 19, 2016 - 43 comments

Early Modern English

Shakespeare: Original pronunciation. What Shakespeare Sounded Like to Shakespeare.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 18, 2016 - 40 comments

“But not everyone prefers to hyphenate...”

Why Does Moby-Dick (Sometimes) Have a Hyphen? [The Smithsonian]
When the book was published in England, it bore that straightforward title. In a historical note to a scholarly edition of the book, Melville scholar G. Thomas Tanselle writes that Melville’s brother, Allan, made a last-minute change to the title of the American edition. “[Melville] has determined upon a new title,” his brother wrote. “It is thought here that the new title will be a better selling title…Moby-Dick is a legitimate title for the book.” The American edition went to press, hyphen intact, despite the fact that the whale within was only referred to with a hyphen one time. Hyphenated titles would have been familiar to Victorian-era readers, who were used to “fairy-tales” and “year-books.” Even Melville enjoyed a good hyphen now and then, as the title of his book White-Jacket proves. But it’s still unclear whether Melville, who didn’t use a hyphen inside the book, chose a hyphen for the book’s title or whether his brother punctuated the title incorrectly.
posted by Fizz on Jan 16, 2016 - 46 comments

A matter of tone

The Tone Analyzer uses linguistic analysis to detect emotional tones, social propensities, and writing styles in written communication. Then it offers suggestions to help the writer improve their intended language tones.
posted by Gyan on Jan 16, 2016 - 22 comments

Good is to MetaFilter as evil is to LOLCats

A web tool (scroll down) built by Radim Řehůřek allows you to compute analogies between English words using Google's word2vec semantic representation, trained on 100 billion words of Google News. "He" is to "Linda" as "she" is to "Steve." "Wisconsin" is to "Milwaukee" as "Maryland" is to "Baltimore." "Good" is to "MetaFilter" as "evil" is to "LOLCats." [more inside]
posted by escabeche on Jan 3, 2016 - 30 comments

The history of lesbian slang--or the absence thereof

Last week, the BBC radio programme Woman’s Hour ran an item on the American documentary film "Do I Sound Gay?" The film explores what’s popularly known as ‘the gay voice’, a way of speaking that identifies a man as gay (though not all gay men have it, and some men who do sound gay are actually straight). The Woman’s Hour feature ranged more widely over the subject of gay language, including a lengthy discussion of Polari (previously: 1, 2). But it was all about the boys–-until, towards the end of the item, the presenter broached the inevitable question: do lesbians also have a language of their own? Nothing comparable to Polari--but we do have some historical evidence of in-group lesbian slang.
posted by sciatrix on Dec 15, 2015 - 15 comments

Internet quizzes are to Metafilter as...

Are you smarter than an 8th grader?
posted by jacquilynne on Dec 5, 2015 - 110 comments

How corporations profit from black teens' viral content

The originator of "on fleek" was a 16-year-old girl from South Chicago. "Cool hunting" by advertisers has long captured and resold content from black youth in urban communities. But the rise of social media have made the process significantly faster, and the capitalization on trends far richer. Yet the youth who create dance styles and new language are rarely compensated for their cultural work. And the shape of copyright law is partly to blame. [more inside]
posted by gusandrews on Dec 5, 2015 - 21 comments


Hundreds of languages are spoken in Nigeria - so which one do you teach a parrot?
posted by ChuraChura on Dec 2, 2015 - 22 comments

The IKEA Dictionary

The IKEA dictionary explains the origin of over 1200 IKEA product names.
posted by jedicus on Nov 28, 2015 - 49 comments

So what’s your solution?

Professor of Mathematics Izabella Laba's "A Response to … " Scott Aaronson's "Words Will Do". An exchange between a mathematician and a computer scientist, on the use of terms including: privilege, hegemony, false consciousness, mansplaining, etc., and the general problem of clear communication, when the social sciences are applied towards political causes. [more inside]
posted by polymodus on Nov 21, 2015 - 111 comments

Dominicans speak only one word. And it is all of the words.

Joanna rants: Types of Spanish Accents [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Nov 16, 2015 - 44 comments

English is not normal

English is not normal. "No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language." (Aeon via Longform).
posted by pravit on Nov 15, 2015 - 103 comments

Kink left severity 4

Looking for a new esoteric language to learn? Try rally notes. Learn the symbols or study these sample rally notes. Not esoteric enough? Try the Jemba Inertia Notes System. [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis on Nov 14, 2015 - 10 comments

A place where our language lives

A short film: The winter stories of the Ojibwe are vital narratives that offer a historical and moral guide for understanding the environment and our people’s place within it. One of these stories tells of the first maple sugar gathering. A tree offered its life-force (sap) for use by the people to help keep them alive through a difficult winter when many were starving to death. This tree asked to be cared for in return and to be thanked properly for this gift. Each spring the students at Waadookodaading Ojibwe Language Immersion School open the school sugar bush with a retelling of this story and an opening feast of thanks.
posted by rtha on Nov 9, 2015 - 6 comments

Translating gender: Ancillary Justice in Five Languages

In Ann Leckie’s novel Ancillary Justice (Orbit Books: 2013), the imperial Radch rules over much of human-inhabited space. Its culture – and its language – does not identify people on the basis of their gender: it is irrelevant to them. In the novel, written in English, Leckie represents this linguistic reality by using the female pronoun ‘she’ throughout, regardless of any information supplied about a Radchaai (and, often, a non-Radchaai) person’s perceived gender. This pronoun choice has two effects. Firstly, it successfully erases grammatical difference in the novel and makes moot the question of the characters’ genders. But secondly, it exists in a context of continuing discussions around the gendering of science fiction, the place of men and women and people of other genders within the genre, as characters in fiction and as professional/fans, and beyond the pages of the book it is profoundly political. It is a female pronoun. When translating Ancillary Justice into other languages, the relationship between those two effects is vital to the work.
posted by sciatrix on Nov 8, 2015 - 95 comments

Recurrent neural network for generating stories about images

This experiment explores how to generate little romantic stories about images, using neural-storyteller, a recently published experiment by Ryan Kiros.
posted by signal on Nov 6, 2015 - 10 comments

"I don't know what that is." "You know... Gabagool."

How Capicola Became Gabagool: The Italian New Jersey Accent, Explained.
posted by bondcliff on Nov 6, 2015 - 105 comments

Rejecting the gender binary: a vector-space operation

“Word Embedding Models let us take a stab formalizing an interesting counterfactual question: what would the networks of meaning in language look like if patterns that map onto gender did not exist?” [more inside]
posted by Rangi on Nov 1, 2015 - 17 comments

Argots and Ludlings

"Though there appears to be no definitive research on gender and gibberish, it became clear to me that girls are drawn to gibberish and the dozens of other secret languages and language games, also called argots and ludlings, because using them builds social bonds." Jessica Weiss, "The Secret Linguistic Life of Girls: Why Girls Speak Gibberish." [more inside]
posted by MonkeyToes on Oct 25, 2015 - 58 comments

Digital poetry - Leaving the ivory tower

The challenge: if people would only know, hear, and see what poets did, then at least some of them would realize too how cool literature can actually be. - Three projects which engage in popularizing, mediating, and digitally archiving contemporary Hungarian poetry. [more inside]
posted by Wolfdog on Oct 25, 2015 - 0 comments

“This was a brilliant innovation,”

Unfinished story… [The Guardian] [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Oct 23, 2015 - 4 comments

Totally Texas

On behalf of the MeFites of Norway: It has come to our attention that somebody has let slip that "totally Texas" (in Norwegian "helt texas") is used as an expression to convey that some event is crazy or totally out of control. After decades, the Americans now know. An investigation into the leak will be made. Thank you.
posted by Harald74 on Oct 22, 2015 - 132 comments


There are at least three emoji-based programming languages: 🍀 (aka 4Lang; bubblesort example), Emojinal, and HeartForth (stack-based, for extra obscurity; factorial example). [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Oct 15, 2015 - 29 comments

"I'm sorry, Mikhail, if I could? Didn't mean to cut you off there."

...or, how a woman would have to ask Gorbachev to tear down this wall.
posted by nightrecordings on Oct 15, 2015 - 37 comments

Ooo wee ooooo, baby baby...

Why ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Oct 13, 2015 - 25 comments

Lucidibeet hubcar

You've seen @everyword. Now here's every nonword.
posted by nebulawindphone on Oct 6, 2015 - 33 comments

The latest battleground in language shaping culture

His daughter died as a result of a car "accident". He and others argue that they should be called "crashes". An academic exercise, or the latest battle in changing the way people think about car culture?
posted by Automocar on Oct 4, 2015 - 232 comments

You're saying "Khaleesi" wrong.

Building the languages of Game of Thrones.
posted by curious nu on Oct 2, 2015 - 15 comments

Priyanka Chopra’s Accent Is Helping Me Solve My Biggest Identity Crisis

"What’s hardest to explain, especially to those who’ve grown up within one unshakeable cultural universe, is that none of us are faking it."
posted by stoneweaver on Sep 30, 2015 - 36 comments

A visual dictionary of the vocalizations of Mongolian herders.

Or, what to say to your cow on the steppe. Visual anthropologist Natasha Fijn presents this short video of shouts and moos as an appendix to her book, Living With Herds.
posted by gusandrews on Sep 28, 2015 - 12 comments

Breaking the communication barrier between dolphins and humans

“Head trainer Teri Turner Bolton presses her palms together over her head, the signal to innovate, and then puts her fists together, the sign for “tandem.” Comparative psychologist Stan Kuczaj records several seconds of audible chirping between [the dolphins] Hector and Han, then his camera captures them both slowly rolling over in unison and flapping their tails three times simultaneously. [...] Either one dolphin is mimicking the other [...] or it’s not an illusion at all: When they whistle back and forth beneath the surface, they’re literally discussing a plan.[more inside]
posted by Rangi on Sep 15, 2015 - 38 comments

A Corpus of Corpora

corpora is a Github repository containing machine-readable lists of interesting words and phrases that "are potentially useful in the creation of weird internet stuff." The corpora range from the mundane (common English words, animals, corporations, pizza toppings) to the obscure (types of knot, wrestling moves, Lovecraftian deities) to the absurd (states of drunkenness, deceased Spinal Tap drummers, unrhymable words).
posted by schmod on Sep 12, 2015 - 40 comments

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?

new research has revealed that when we learn our mother tongue, we do after all acquire certain habits of thought that shape our experience in significant and often surprising ways.
posted by bq on Sep 9, 2015 - 104 comments

If every state had an official word, what would it be?

Slate presents The United Slang of America, a state by state map of popular regionalisms. I'll take jojos over a quakenado any day.
posted by redsparkler on Sep 2, 2015 - 179 comments

Things That Make You Go HURRRGGGHH

Do recipes for moist cakes make your skin clammy? Did that article about hardscrabble pugilists leave you nauseated? Do you feel super-embarrassed (YT) when you have to say completely innocent words like onus or cunning or bean curd out loud? Or even in writing? If so, you are far from alone! Word aversion, or logomisia, is an extremely common phenomenon that affects up to one in five (links to PDF) of us, and it's extremely contagious. [more inside]
posted by jake on Aug 28, 2015 - 226 comments

You Be Illein'

Why do some people refer to themselves in the third person? asks Vanessa Barford, in a BBC News Magazine article. Misteraitch doesn’t know. The act of referring to oneself in this way is known as Illeism (Wikipedia) (apparently from the Latin ille meaning “he, that”). At Language Log, Arnold Zwicky writes on Illeism and its Relatives, and maintains that illeism in young children ought not be blamed on Elmo. [more inside]
posted by misteraitch on Aug 28, 2015 - 37 comments

correctness rests upon usage; all usage is relative

"What of those grammar rules that were entirely dreamt up in an age of moral prescriptivism, reflecting nothing of historical or literary usage, to encourage the poor English language to be more like an entirely different (and entirely dead) language, namely Latin? Wait, which rules are those? It seems pretty crazy but the popular grammar rules familiar to most of us may in fact be completely fake and have no basis in linguistic reality. The English language didn't change to make those rules obsolete, they were simply fictional from the start." || Dear Pedants: Your Fave Grammar Rule is Probably Fake, by Chi Luu.
posted by divined by radio on Aug 25, 2015 - 170 comments

You need both sides of your brain to speak whistled Turkish

Whistled Turkish is a non-conformist. Most obviously, it bucks the normal language trend of using consonants and vowels, opting instead for a bird-like whistle. But more importantly, it departs from other language forms in a more fundamental respect: it's processed differently by the brain.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 21, 2015 - 9 comments

Ghosts at the Banquet

Martin Gusinde documented the life and rituals of the Selk'nam people of Tierra del Fuego, off the southern tip of South America from 1918-24. They had been nearly wiped out by a genocide led by Julius Popper, the Tyrant of Tierra del Fuego, their numbers reduced from an estimated four thousand to only a few hundred. Now a book has been published containing hundreds of Gusinde's photos. Forty-five photos are available on the National Library of Chile's website. The last native speaker of Selk'nam, Herminia Vera Illioyen, died in 2014. That same year, linguist Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia completed a reference grammar of Selk'nam. His friend Joubert Yanten Gomez, a young Selk'nam, has taught himself the language. Selk'nam and efforts to preserve it are one of the languages profiled in Judith Thurman's A Loss for Words, an essay about whether dying languages can be saved.
posted by Kattullus on Aug 18, 2015 - 5 comments

That's intelligent design, not Intelligent Design.

Daniel Dennett, known for having previously explained thinking, religion, and consciousness, recently spoke at the Royal Institution where he did a most excellent job of explaining memes [1-hour video].
posted by sfenders on Aug 17, 2015 - 22 comments

On becoming African-American

I knew that my sister was smarter than her husband; I also knew that she knew this. But I also knew that her husband thought little of women, and nothing of their intelligence. Yet, here he was losing a shouting match on his home court. He was embarrassed. After seeing how the French language had betrayed him, a bittersweet subtlety slipped from his lips like licorice. In plain-vanilla English he said, “This is exactly why I shouldn’t have married a black girl.”
--Coming to America
posted by almostmanda on Aug 14, 2015 - 58 comments

The Many Origins of the English Language

An Interactive Visualization.
posted by lemuring on Aug 8, 2015 - 11 comments

The word 'Pajubá' mean 'gossip' or 'news'.

"Pajubá is one of the many queer anti-languages of the world. People study them in 'Lavender Linguistics'. It's hard to study those languages because their usefulness vanishes if they are not secret anymore. Pajubá is a moving target, evolving so rapidly that it can't be documented." — Pajubá: The secret language of Brazilian trans women [via mefi projects]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 3, 2015 - 6 comments

D'ya get me, bruv?

A new London accent strikingly different from Cockney has emerged in the last few years. Linguists call it "Multicultural London English" (or MLE) and although it has obvious roots in the London black community it's now displacing Cockney to become a universal accent for working class London youth, regardless of race. Change is spreading so fast that London teens often have radically different accents from their own parents. [more inside]
posted by w0mbat on Jul 28, 2015 - 71 comments


The International Dialects of English Archive (IDEA) is a free, online archive of primary-source dialect and accent recordings of the English language. Founded in 1997 at the University of Kansas, it includes hundreds of recordings of English speakers by natives of nearly 100 different countries. To find an example of an accent or dialect, use the Global Map, or select a continent or region at the Dialects and Accents page. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 27, 2015 - 15 comments

"You don't know my name, do you?"

A translator's struggle to export Seinfeld to Germany. How could she possibly translate the episode where Jerry doesn't know the name of the woman he's dating, but only knows it "rhymes with a female body part"? [more inside]
posted by John Cohen on Jul 24, 2015 - 67 comments

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