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Rapscallions ought not to challenge gifted rappers

"What's Your English?" - A Youtube rhyme-off between the British Professor Elemental and the Canadian Baba Brinkman regarding the commonalities and differences between variations on the English language, courtesy of the Macmillan Dictionary. (Previous Brinkman, Previous Elemental)
posted by Katemonkey on Feb 13, 2011 - 24 comments

One Language, Many Voices

Evolving English: The British Library's Evolving English exhibition runs until 3rd April but if you can't make it to London you can view the English language timeline, map your voice, or try this quiz on the website.
posted by Lezzles on Feb 8, 2011 - 12 comments

Online Corpora

Online Corpora. In linguistics, a corpus is a collection of 'real world' writing and speech designed to facilitate research into language. These 6 searchable corpora together contain more than a billion words. The Corpus of Historical American English allows you to track changes in word use from 1810 to present; the Corpus del Español goes back to the 1200s.
posted by Paragon on Jan 24, 2011 - 11 comments

Learn aboot North American English dialects

A quite ugly but intriguing map of English dialects in North America.
posted by nickheer on Dec 27, 2010 - 114 comments

"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.
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 23, 2010 - 27 comments

The Wonderful World of Babel

Unlike many cinematic exports, the Disney canon of films distinguishes itself with an impressive dedication to dubbing. Through an in-house service called Disney Character Voices International, not just dialogue but songs, too, are skillfully re-recorded, echoing the voice acting, rhythm, and rhyme scheme of the original work to an uncanny degree (while still leaving plenty of room for lyrical reinvention). The breadth of the effort is surprising, as well -- everything from Arabic to Icelandic to Zulu gets its own dub, and their latest project, The Princess and the Frog, debuted in more than forty tongues. Luckily for polyglots everywhere, the exhaustiveness of Disney's translations is thoroughly documented online in multilanguage mixes and one-line comparisons, linguistic kaleidoscopes that cast new light on old standards. Highlights: "One Jump Ahead," "Prince Ali," and "A Whole New World" (Aladdin) - "Circle of Life," "Hakuna Matata," and "Luau!" (The Lion King) - "Under the Sea" and "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (The Little Mermaid) - "Belle" and "Be Our Guest" (Beauty and the Beast) - "Just Around the Riverbend" (Pocahontas) - "One Song" and "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White) - "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (Cinderella) - Medley (Pinocchio) - "When She Loved Me" (Toy Story 2) - Intro (Monsters, Inc.)
posted by Rhaomi on Nov 12, 2010 - 31 comments

Could you really care less?

"I couldn't care less" vs. "I could care less"... A letter to Ann Landers in October 1960 is credited with starting the debate over "one of the great language peeves of our time." Via. [more inside]
posted by amyms on Oct 31, 2010 - 167 comments

I'm going to be a college professor

So You Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities. Also. (Previously)
posted by shivohum on Oct 26, 2010 - 90 comments

“When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain.”

Words I love, not to be confused with Words I hate.
posted by Fizz on Oct 24, 2010 - 32 comments

"It's only ugly because it's new and you don't like it."

When asked to join in a "let's persuade this supermarket chain to get rid of their 'five items or less' sign" I never join in. [more inside]
posted by heyho on Oct 20, 2010 - 78 comments

þǣre cwenes Ænglisc

The BBC presents a wee Flash gubbins that discusses the history of the English language in ten parts.
posted by Dim Siawns on Oct 19, 2010 - 15 comments

For anyone making the plunge, Miller has advice: “Bring water. And wear sweatpants.”

The next day, Sunday, I spent almost nine hours immersed in Robert Lepage’s marathon play, Lipsynch, at the Bluma Appel Theatre, which was part of Luminato. You tell people you’ve just spent nine hours watching a play conducted in four languages (with projected sur-titles) and they think you’ve undergone an endurance test, made a heroic sacrifice for art. On the contrary. There was no suffering(5 minutes of [enthusiastic] standing and clapping). The time flew by. It was like taking your brain on a luxurious cruise. Or spending the day in an art spa, basking in mind massages and sensory wraps. Maybe it was high art but the ascent was effortless: because Lepage did all the work for you, it was experienced as pure entertainment. [more inside]
posted by infinite intimation on Oct 10, 2010 - 6 comments

The English Language In 24 Accents

Twenty-four different accents in just over eight minutes. (NSFW SLYT)
posted by gman on Oct 1, 2010 - 82 comments

Dead languages

The English language, which arose from humble Anglo-Saxon roots to become the lingua franca of 600 million people worldwide and the dominant lexicon of international discourse, is dead. It succumbed last month at the age of 1,617 after a long illness. It is survived by an ignominiously diminished form of itself.
posted by caddis on Sep 24, 2010 - 147 comments

Motivated Grammar

I’m not advocating the abolition of grammar, but rather its justification. I’m not quite sure what that will entail in the end, but I’m starting out by pointing out grammar rules that just don’t make sense, don’t work, or don’t have any justification. All I want is for our rules of grammar to be well-motivated.
posted by Joe Beese on Sep 10, 2010 - 90 comments

Water bariccades gladdly received

Queen's English 50c: A translation service for English-speaking 50cent fans.
posted by Dr Dracator on Sep 8, 2010 - 62 comments

Not "It"

The Gender-Neutral Pronoun: 150 Years Later, Still an Epic Fail. Wordsmiths have been coining gender-neutral pronouns for a century and a half, all to no avail. Coiners of these new words insist that the gender-neutral pronoun is indispensable, but users of English stalwartly reject, ridicule, or just ignore their proposals. [Via].
posted by amyms on Aug 28, 2010 - 122 comments

To say Twitter is colloquial is putting it lightly.

Lexicalist attempts to be 'a demographic dictionary of modern American English.' Here's how it works. Lexicalist's developer David Bamman goes into greater detail at Language Log. [more inside]
posted by shakespeherian on May 20, 2010 - 28 comments

Bangers and Beans and Toast, Oh My!

The Full English: "[...]a mad, bad, salt-soaked road trip from culinary heaven to hell and back"
posted by Secret Life of Gravy on Apr 22, 2010 - 48 comments

"What do we want? English! When do we want it? Now!"

"Yes, we want" -- Who owns global English? Post on The Web of Language by Dennis Barron, Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Illinois. Barron writes about the linguistic control of English playing out on the global stage. Included among the topics is the perception of "error" and Engrish. (Previously)
posted by la_scribbler on Apr 21, 2010 - 86 comments

Hwaet!

Anglo-Saxon Aloud: Daily readings (and podcasts) from the Complete Corpus of Anglo Saxon Poetry, presented by Prof. Michael Drout, Wheaton College. For those that like to read along, the Corpus presented in text (no translation, though).
posted by Chrischris on Mar 20, 2010 - 18 comments

"Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes."

Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.
posted by defenestration on Jan 4, 2010 - 258 comments

That's what they said

The Michigan Corpus of Academic Spoken English is a searchable collection of almost 2 million words of transcribed spoken English from the University of Michigan, including student study groups, office hours, dissertation defenses, and campus tours. Researchers use the Michigan corpus to investigate questions about usage, like "less or fewer?" (cf. this contentious Ask Meta thread) and more general topics, like "Vague Language in Academia." Browse or search MICASE yourself.
posted by escabeche on Nov 21, 2009 - 20 comments

Ask the Editors @ Merriam-Webster's

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.
posted by Kattullus on Nov 20, 2009 - 15 comments

Voices from WWI speak again in British Library

"It is the business of educated people to speak so that no-one may be able to tell in what county their childhood was passed." Despite efforts by Victorians to eradicate them, dialects of English in Great Britain continue to vary greatly, much to the consternation of many traditionalists. But a recently acquired archive is giving new insight into old dialects--some of which no longer exist. Recorded in a WWI prisoner of war camp on shellac disks, the archive was part of an effort by German linguists to study regional variation in the English language. A report by PRI's The World includes a brief synopsis--and a powerful rendition of a beloved Scottish ballad by a homesick soldier.
posted by jefficator on Nov 11, 2009 - 10 comments

MétaFiltre!

The Canadian Government’s Translation Bureau recently made its French/English/Spanish technical terminology database, Termium, free to access after over a decade as a subscription-based service. While off-the-cuff translations are often available from free services like BabelFish, Termium focuses on technical terminology such as scientific, medical and legal terms. [more inside]
posted by Shepherd on Oct 22, 2009 - 35 comments

INFORMATION; SEASPEAK

INFORMATION; SEASPEAK IS A RESTRICTED LANGUAGE USING SIMPLE STANDARD PHRASES FOR CLEAR COMMUNICATION AT SEA; OVER.
ADVICE; BEGIN EACH PHRASE WITH MESSAGE MARKERS SUCH AS INSTRUCTION, ADVICE, WARNING, INFORMATION, QUESTION, ANSWER, REQUEST, INTENTION; OVER.
QUESTION; ARE THERE RELATED LANGUAGES; OVER.
ANSWER; YES AIRSPEAK, TUNNELSPEAK; OUT.
posted by TheophileEscargot on Sep 23, 2009 - 79 comments

Big things have small beginnings

Charlotte and Branwell Brontë wrote many of their stories of Angria on tiny sheets of paper in nearly microscopic handwriting. This particular example consists of four sheets of notepaper folded into sixteen pages. The individual sheets are approximately 4 ½ inches long and 3 5/8 inches wide, and the entire text contains about nineteen thousand words.
posted by Joe Beese on Sep 18, 2009 - 20 comments

Deionized Essence of Dan Brown

"Five months ago, the kaleidoscope of power had been shaken, and Aringarosa was still reeling from the blow." Dan Brown's 20 Worst Sentences
posted by Secret Life of Gravy on Sep 17, 2009 - 228 comments

Keeping Celtic languages alive on TV and the Web

Since 1980, the Celtic Media Festival has brought together people who broadcast, and now Webcast, in Celtic languages. Videoblog Gwagenn.TV provides a report (with autoplaying video) from the 2009 festival whose clips and interviews are spoken and subtitled variously in Breton, French, English, Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish, Catalan, and Basque, not all of which are actually Celtic. [more inside]
posted by joeclark on Sep 15, 2009 - 5 comments

"a real-life James Bond. His boozy amours, his tough postures, his intelligence expertise..."

In 1948, when John was five, Guy Burgess came to stay for a holiday. John's mother resented Burgess and his close relationship with her husband, and began staging accidents to claim attention; she once reported being mugged in her car, and on another occasion set fire to the living room, suffering serious burns. She was later sent to a Swiss clinic for treatment. Philby was posted to the United States the following year. The strange life of John Philby, the son of "the most hated man in England", Kim Philby, a member of the notorious Cambridge Five spying ring. (via)
posted by The Whelk on Aug 23, 2009 - 16 comments

You deserve to be relegated to the station of the sheep.

Oh, God, you rank, corrupt creature of iniquity! [YT 2:19] [more inside]
posted by zennie on Aug 15, 2009 - 76 comments

Translationparty to achieve a balance between English and Japanese.

Me, why these people are weak and cats RIMASHITA scanner.
posted by 31d1 on Aug 6, 2009 - 278 comments

"Genuinely confusing to rapists"

The Worst Date Ever is the new book by Jane Bussmann. She starts as a celebrity journalist in LA and ends up breaking a massive story about the political situation in Uganda from a scary bit of Africa. Ms. Bussmann also wrote the first internet sit-com: The Junkies (parts 1, 2, 3) , and had a hand in South Park, Brass Eye and Jam. The wonderful Sally Phillips directed the Edinburgh stage show that became the book and Chris Morris says it's "Genuinely confusing to rapists". [more inside]
posted by sam and rufus on Jul 15, 2009 - 9 comments

'Critique' is a noun. If you want a verb, try 'criticise'.

Some common solecisms (grammatical absurdities) from the Style Guide of The Economist
posted by blasdelf on Jun 1, 2009 - 127 comments

The influence of Edmund Spenser across two and a half centuries as traced through 25000 different texts

Spenser and the Tradition: English Poetry 1579-1830 is a mammoth database of English poetry and other writings that traces the influence of the great 16th-Century poet Edmund Spenser on English poetry across 250 years. There are roughly 25000 different texts on the site, over 6000 poems from famous classics to obscure ephemera, and further thousands of biographies and commentaries. Since it would take years to read all the material I am happy to say that there is a guide to navigating the database, an overview of its contents, a statistical summary and an essay on tradition and innovation. The immense database, which started life as a pile of index cards, was compiled largely by Virginia Tech Professor David Hill Radcliffe over the course of 17 years.
posted by Kattullus on May 27, 2009 - 11 comments

Shakespeare's Sonnets Turn 400

400 years ago today, Thomas Thorpe entered into the Stationers' Register a book titled "Shake-Speares Sonnets". However, Clinton Heylin argues that - like Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes - the Sonnets were never intended for a wide audience. "In both cases, they were killing time and at the same time dealing with huge personal issues in a private way, which they never conceived of coming out publicly."
posted by Joe Beese on May 20, 2009 - 37 comments

Look at all the pretty words

A few weeks from now, English will have it's millionth word. Or will it? [more inside]
posted by Dumsnill on May 12, 2009 - 54 comments

I'm a walnut, or a female AV star

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]
posted by kurumi on Mar 26, 2009 - 36 comments

The Gawain Project

The Gawain Project is an ongoing translation of the late 14th century anonymous poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (originally written in Middle English) into Modern English, for the amusement of Arthurians and anyone who likes a good story. [via mefi projects]
posted by Effigy2000 on Feb 13, 2009 - 18 comments

Déja vu ?

A tale of two countries Some time ago, the french & German tv channel Arte had created an internet extension devoted to audio only, Arteradio. This website contains hours of audio creations. This is the place where you can listen to The first radio drama /la première fiction radio /in two languages and one version /en deux langues et une seule version /a BBC-ARTE Radio coproduction /enregistrée à Paris et London /recorded on location /diffusée en hertzien /broadcasted on BBC Radio 4 on February, 4th, 2009 /online on arteradio.com. You can also listen to McKenzie Wark, or to the moment of silence created on September the eleventh 2002, to Steve, to English pupils in Paris, to Susan George, to Dean Hurley commenting his work, and then dive into the complete unknown, and pure French sounds, like these testimonies about masturbation, or about la chanson, like a Paris postcard, or even a street snapshot.
posted by nicolin on Feb 10, 2009 - 3 comments

Wait. Wait some more. Turn around. Wait.

As Orwell said, "another English characteristic which is so much a part of us that we barely notice it,... is the addiction to hobbies and spare-time occupations". Of those, trainspotting must be the most misunderstood. But now you can try it yourself with the online trainspotting simulator and join in the fun!
posted by lucia__is__dada on Feb 5, 2009 - 29 comments

Blandings: The Wonderful World of Wodehouse

Blandings is "a guide and companion to the books, stories, plays and musicals of P. G. Wodehouse, probably the finest craftsman of the English language in the 20th Century." It has lists of his works (and advice on collecting them), a miscellany (old English counties, money and words, JPs, younger sons, sport, public schools and much more), a gazetteer (with notes on real places and maps), and other amenities, but what really put a jaunty spring in my step was the detailed notes for the works. If you go, say, to the Something Fresh page and click on the Notes & Quotes tab, you will find, well, Notes and Quotes. The first thing your bright, expectant orb will encounter: "Arundell Street - no longer exists but it was close to Leicester Square and held both the Hotels Mathis and Previtali (also gone). See West End for a sketch map showing its location." It's a blooming marvel! (Via Wordorigins.org; Wodehouse previously on MetaFilter.)
posted by languagehat on Jan 21, 2009 - 32 comments

Popaganda

Ron English Interview "How come you're allowed to have private property on public space?" A great nine minute interview with Ron English talking about art, advertising, and censorship and creating work that includes footage of English in action. (via Juxtapoz)
posted by Stephen Elliott on Jan 16, 2009 - 7 comments

80 Million Tiny Images

A visualization of all the nouns in the English language arranged by semantic meaning. [NSFW words included!] [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Jan 15, 2009 - 40 comments

Everybody Dance Now

Charlie Corcoran, Bagman of the Morris Ring, believes that Morris dancing (previously) may be on the "brink of extinction". This is what the world would miss. Not everyone is that troubled by the news, however - as assistant librarian at the English Folk Dance and Song Society Elaine Bradtke argues, there are more obscure types of English folk dancing, including (but probably not limited to) Long Sword dancing (a serious-looking dance), Molly dancing (not a very serious dance at all), Rapper dancing (the Welsh miner kind, not the hip-hop kind), Step clog (which needs no introduction), and the English ceilidh (aka barn dancing).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing on Jan 13, 2009 - 46 comments

a selcouth galimatias

International House of Logorrhea, at The Phrontistry, a free online dictionary of weird and unusual words to help enhance your vocabulary. Generous language resources, 2 and 3 letter Scrabble words l The Compass DeRose Guide to Emotion Words l all kinds of glossaries for color terms, wisdom, love and attraction, scientific instruments, manias and obsessions, feeding and eating, carriages and chariots, dance styles and all kinds of fun word stuff. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Jan 11, 2009 - 12 comments

English as a Shouted Language

"Conquer English to Make China Stronger!" is the philosophy of Li Yang, founder of the Crazy English school (and style) of language, described by some as "English as a Shouted Language" for its main method of shouting English words in public to overcome shyness. Li Yang has achieved Elvis-like popularity in China, not just through his public lectures but also through the sales of books, media, teaching materials, and a memoir titled "I am Crazy, I Succeed". Li Yang's unorthodox methods - which include encouraging students to "lose face" and cope with embarrassment on the way to success - have earned him fame and fortune, including headlining the 5th Beijing Foreign Language Festival and being the main English teacher for China's Olympic volunteers. Li Yang's secret to success: "... to have them continuously paying—that’s the conclusion I’ve reached."
posted by divabat on Dec 31, 2008 - 10 comments

The Economist: The World in 2009

In 2009, a remarkably gifted politician, confronting a remarkably difficult set of challenges, will have to learn to say "No we can't", Guantánamo will prove a moral minefield, economic recovery will be invisible to the naked eye, governments must prepare for the day they stop financial guarantees, we will judge our commitment to sustainability, scientists should research the causes of religion, we will all be potential online paparazzi, English will have more words than any other language (but it's meaningless), Afghanistan will see a surge of Western (read: American) troops, Iran will continue its nuclear quest while diplomacy lies in shambles, the sea floor is the new frontier, we should rethink aging, (non-)voters will continue to thwart the European project -- but cheap travel will continue to buoy it -- though it has some unfinished business to attend to, and a Nordic defence bond will blossom.

The Economist: The World in 2009. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 27, 2008 - 31 comments

Lord Love a Duck!

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.
posted by freshwater_pr0n on Oct 20, 2008 - 17 comments

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