The language of Chaucer and Malory, Middle English can be surprisingly approachable for modern English speakers even 800 years later (although knowing a little French or German doesn't hurt). Let's dive in! [more inside]
The OED in two minutes is a visualisation of the change and growth of the English language since 1150, showing the frequency and origin of new words year by year. Notes and explanations about the project. [more inside]
The new chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary discusses its future. "My idea about dictionaries is that, in a way, their time has come. People need filters much more than they did in the past."
Complex scientific concepts explained using only the thousand most used words in the English language. In the spirit of xkcd's Up-Goer Five comic. (Previously.) Use the Up-Goer Five Text Editor to make your own contributions.
The Lonely Planet has come up with a list of thirty travel terms that aren't in the dictionary.
"It is of such stiff stuff that the upper lip of the British phonetician should be fashioned, giving short shrift to chauvinism."
Howjsay.com is a unique online speaking dictionary that offers clear pronunciations of English words, phrases, slang terms, technical terms, brand names, proper names, profanity, and many foreign words, including common variations and alternatives. Astoundingly, the sound files are not computer-generated -- every single one of the site's 138,152 entries are enunciated in the dignified tones of British academic and polyglot Tim Bowyer, who has steadily expanded its glossary over the years using logs of unsuccessful searches and direct user suggestions. The site is part of Bowyer's Fonetiks.org family of language sites, and is also available as a browser extension and as a mobile app for iPhone/iPod and Blackberry.
Merriam-Webster's Ask the Editors blog is the centerpiece of the Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary site. It is an excellent source of sensible advice about English language and usage. Editor-at-large Peter Sokolowski also has a Twitter feed where he highlights various interesting things about words. Finally, Merriam-Webster has started producing Ask the Editor videos, four so far, where they've tackled the subjects of i before e, classical roots, affect vs. effect and how news stories affect what words people look up online, in this case focusing on the effect of the coverage of Michael Jackson's death. Incidentally, Merriam-Webster have released their top ten words of 2009 list, which is based on what words people looked up.
Nihongodict is an AJAXy online Japanese-English dictionary. The list of matches auto-updates as you type. You can enter (or paste in) romaji, Kanji or kana, and use character maps for hiragana and katakana. Results can be bookmarked. [more inside]
A visualization of all the nouns in the English language arranged by semantic meaning. [NSFW words included!] [more inside]
Ever wonder what a quocker-wodger was? Just what did they mean when they said that you were all kippers and curtains? Worldwidewords.org has the answer. "More than 1600 pages on the origins, history, evolution and idiosyncrasies of the English language worldwide." Word geeks, say goodbye to the rest of your afternoon.
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...
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!
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.
Do Most Of You Yanks Really Understand What The Brits Here Are On About? Although the cultural mistranslations are probably more a question of tone and habits of irony and understatement, Jeremy Smith's online American·British British·American Dictionary, to be published next September, might be of some assistance. Although I still prefer Terry Gliedt's older but pithier United Kingdom English For The American Novice and even Scotsman Chris Rae's English-to-American Dictionary. Here's a little BBC quiz to test your skills. It seems that Canadians, Australians and [another cute quiz coming up!] New Zealanders are the only Metafilterians to completely capture all the varieties of English usage here. Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that non-U.S. users know much, much less about England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand et caetera than vice-versa? Does anyone else get the occasional feeling we're not exactly speaking the same language here?