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Online Etymology Dictionary

Ever wondered why they use K to record a baseball strike? How about the origin of eavesdrop? What about vamping on a piano? All this and more at the Online Etymology Dictionary.
posted by xmutex on Dec 9, 2004 - 18 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

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

'In the penthouse of the Ivory Tower'

' "Oh, you're going to the MLA? What a riot. They're a bunch of sitting ducks." I hadn't been planning to shoot at them, I said'. Lewis Kraus attends the 119th Annual MLA Conference, and asks what it means to be an English professor after the 'crisis of the humanities'.
posted by Sonny Jim on Aug 23, 2004 - 10 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

Read Me, Love Me!!

WordNet: "an online lexical reference system whose design is inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical memory. English nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs are organized into synonym sets, each representing one underlying lexical concept. Different relations link the synonym sets." What does one do with WordNet?
posted by archimago on Aug 9, 2004 - 16 comments

About English schools

A guide to the English school system. From the BBC. This certainly explained a few things for me. (And remember, private school = public school)
posted by iffley on Jul 29, 2004 - 7 comments

a simple encyclopedia

Simple English Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia with simple words and grammar.
posted by reklaw on Apr 30, 2004 - 4 comments

OED new words

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.
posted by mfoight on Mar 22, 2004 - 10 comments

100 Most Mispronounced Words

100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English.
posted by hama7 on Mar 20, 2004 - 83 comments

Framley Museum

Framley Museum. 'The museum was founded in 1882 when objects of local interest began to gather in the field where the museum now stands, due to the natural action of the wind and rain. '
'In 1886, visionary Whoft philanthropist, Manimal MacCorkindale proposed building some walls around the objects, forming Framley's first museum. A door fitted in 1932 cemented the museum's popularity.'
Courtesy of the mighty Framley Examiner.
posted by plep on Dec 3, 2003 - 9 comments

Speak Proper!

mumbo jumbo... BBC journalist John Humphrys bemoans the abuses suffered by the English language. At the risk of becoming a Grumpy Old Man before my time I can't help but agree with him, in particular about the Management Speak. I recently came across the verb "to hero" which set my teeth on edge. And just what the hell does "to leverage" mean?
posted by jontyjago on Oct 20, 2003 - 73 comments

Being English

Forget British. Define English. The perennial ex-pat and honorary Yank Christopher Hitchens may not be the best Englishman to define it - though his embarrassingly reactionary brother Peter is even less suited - but at least he has a go. For everyone else in the world, there are the Scottish, the Welsh, even the Northern Irish - all strong nationalities in their own right, each one older and more culturally solid than the slightly French, slightly German and slightly Dutch English. So why persist, in this post-imperialist day and age, in the myth of the Brit? If it is a myth. Americans, whether from the U.S. or Canada, certainly continue to buy into it. Or is it, for the rest of the world, too dangerous for the English - with devolution raging - to find their own, muddied identity? Think of those football hooligans and their grotesque politics, St.George face-masks and flags. (Via Arts And Letters Daily.)
posted by MiguelCardoso on Oct 17, 2003 - 40 comments

Accents In English

It's Not What You Say, It's The Way That You Say It: George Bernard Shaw famously remarked that every time an Englishman opens his mouth it's guaranteed that another Englishman will despise him. This website offers a motley and unintentionally hilarious collection of the many, ever-growing pronunciations of the English language. The variety is so wide you could almost be listening to different languages. But is a particular accent still an anti-democratic barrier, strictly revealing your position on the socio-geographic ladder, as it was in the days Nancy Mitford discussed U and non-U vocabulary? Or have upper-class accents in the U.K. and U.S. (note the Boston Brahmin samples), once coveted and preferred, now become the opposite: unforgivable impediments? Does posh speech exist in Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand as it does in the U.K. and U.S.? In other words: Does it still matter? (Quicktime Audio for main and fourth link; Real Audio for third.)
posted by MiguelCardoso on Sep 20, 2003 - 50 comments

Lost Words

The Compendium of Lost Words
posted by ttrendel on Sep 3, 2003 - 9 comments

P.S. 666

Ms. Gonick is a dooshe bag. Unfortunate experiences with a gaggle of teenagers in an enclosed space.
posted by kozad on Sep 3, 2003 - 43 comments

Speech Accent Archive

The Speech Accent Archive, with 264 audio clips of native and non-native English speakers reading the same paragraph. Wonderful sounds if you love languages (and who doesn't?), including Bambara, Vietnamese, Uzbek, Quechua and the instantly recognizable Synthesized. [via Tara Calishan's invaluable ResearchBuzz]
posted by mediareport on Aug 14, 2003 - 22 comments

SpellingReform

The Simplified Spelling Society. Finally, a cause I can really get behind. More.
posted by srboisvert on Jun 9, 2003 - 63 comments

Words fail me.

"Bling Bling" has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. To be classified as a noun, pronounced "B to the Izz-L...."
posted by XQUZYPHYR on May 1, 2003 - 27 comments

Learn English.

Learn English.
posted by xmutex on Apr 17, 2003 - 15 comments

Where White-Collar Jobs Are Going

Elocution lessons are helping staff working at call centres in India neutralise their accents and make their sales pitch more effective
call-center workers, computer programmers, these and other positions are being transferred to countries like India. We all know why. Only one reason, they call it Tight labor markets.

This is great news for India, but what exactly will the current call-center workers, programmers and other white collar workers in US do if their jobs will be gone to India ?
Are you worried that your position will one day be replaced by someone on the other side of the world working for 1/3 of your salary ?
posted by bureaustyle on Apr 15, 2003 - 43 comments

Foreigners' common pronunciation mistakes in Eenglish

Ough!* I pronounce the English language unpronounceable: Arriba! Arriba! Arriba! Speedy Gonzales here. When will you make up your minds and stop making fun of pestering us poor foreigners? I mean, it's not as if you yourselves can agree on how to pronounce almost anything... [*As in "plough". Not as in through, , thought, thorough, thought, hiccough, lough or enough already!]
posted by Carlos Quevedo on Apr 11, 2003 - 84 comments

Separated By A Common Language And All That Jazz

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?
posted by MiguelCardoso on Apr 5, 2003 - 66 comments

English Sans French. Quelle horreur!

English Sans without French. Imagine Think of a world of English without any French influence impact, including linguistic. Some beautiful folks at the Christian Science Studies Monitor have done just that.
posted by kokogiak on Mar 14, 2003 - 36 comments

I slap my balls against it!

The English have landed! In the spirit of international confederation, Nerve.com offers this all too brief list of common curses, epithets, and scandalous phrases, along with their French counterpart, and more interestingly, a transliteration of the French so one can better understand the Idiom.
posted by jonson on Jan 23, 2003 - 15 comments

A Menagerie of Animals

Oxford's guide to collective terms for animals is a useful and fascinating although all-too-brief resource. Collective terms for birds are some of my favourites: an unkindness of ravens; a murmuration of starlings; a richness of martens. Bees and sheep seem to have a lot of collective terms. I can't imagine why. Altogether, though, I found one of the terms for for ferrets to be the pick of the bunch.
posted by nthdegx on Jan 13, 2003 - 34 comments

Poetry International Web

Poetry International Web opens today. "Hundreds of poems by acclaimed modern poets from all around the world, both in the original language and in English translation."
posted by igor.boog on Nov 6, 2002 - 7 comments

Nu Shortcuts in School R 2 Much 4 Teachers

Nu Shortcuts in School R 2 Much 4 Teachers That's the actual headline from the NY Times. Can you guess what the teachers are concerned about? A point the story doesn't mention: as these kids grow up, will they change what we consider proper English?
posted by smackfu on Sep 20, 2002 - 33 comments

Why Are The English-Speaking Nations Crap At Foreign Languages?

Why Are The English-Speaking Nations Crap At Foreign Languages? The standard explanation is that they're lazy and arrogant and expect everyone in the world to speak English. Well - surprise, surprise - that's not Philip Hensher's experience and it certainly isn't mine either. So why - or what - is it? [More inside.]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Aug 12, 2002 - 87 comments

The Apostrophe Protection Society:

The Apostrophe Protection Society: ...reminding all writers of English text, whether on notices or in documents of any type, of the correct usage of the apostrophe should you wish to put right mistakes you may have inadvertently made.
posted by acridrabbit on Aug 12, 2002 - 57 comments

How To Say Yes (Or No) To British Food:

How To Say Yes (Or No) To British Food: Apart from the language barrier (ably demolished by Mike Etherington's magnificent online dictionary), British food has a dreadful reputation all over the world. Yet people who try it, whatever their nationality, often find they enjoy it. If it's properly made, that is. Enter Helen Watson's impeccable and ethnically correct recipes. And those who can't be bothered to cook can always plump for the many ready-made goodies (and some real stinkers) now offered by internet mail order firms. The most promising has got to be, with over 2,500 goodies, the FBC Brit Shop. Unfortunately it's based in Japan and will only start delivering in September. The best of the rest is probably yummy British Delights. My mother's English so I'm obviously biased, but aren't a lot of people missing out on the unique gastronomic charms of the good old United K? Oh yes![FBC link pilfered from the Boing Boing larder.]
posted by MiguelCardoso on Aug 3, 2002 - 63 comments

blimey charlie the french are getting right hot

blimey charlie the french are getting right hot under the collar. There is growing indignation in france at the creeping use of the english language. Well now it seems that the EU, with an impeccable track record of supporting the french is suddenly ruffling a few feathers.
posted by johnnyboy on Aug 2, 2002 - 47 comments

God,

God, you our Fadda. You stay in da sky. We like all da peopo know fo shua how you stay, an dat you good an spesho inside, an we like dem give you plenny respeck. We like you come king ova hea now. We like everybody make jalike you like, ova hea inside da world, jalike da angel guys up inside da sky make jalike you like. Give us da food we need fo every day. Let us go, an throw out our shame fo all da kine bad stuff we do to you, jalike us guys let da odda guys go awready, an we no stay huhu wit dem fo all da kine bad stuff dey do to us. No let us get chance fo do bad kine stuff, But take us outa dea, so da Bad Guy no can hurt us. Cuz you our king, you get da real power, an you stay awesome fo eva. Dass it!

Hawaii Creole English, from the Language Museum, which lists examples of 2000 languges.
posted by swift on Jul 18, 2002 - 14 comments

It appears England is made up of an ethnic cleansing event from people coming across from the continent after the Romans left. Our findings completely overturn the modern view of the origins of the English.
posted by stbalbach on Jul 5, 2002 - 21 comments

Is the Internet Suffering from Acute 'Englishitis'?

Is the Internet Suffering from Acute 'Englishitis'? "...the advantage among Net surfers will soon no longer belong to English-speaking users but rather to those who master several languages. Multilingualism is without a doubt the future of the network...."
posted by papalotl on Jan 30, 2002 - 18 comments

Learning propper english gramar ain't gotta suck no longer. Someones made it fun and enjoyable for everybody! And when you meat someone who can't write good, you'll know why. This could even be the dearth of the MeFi grammar flames even! (nahhh)
posted by BentPenguin on Dec 29, 2001 - 6 comments

English

English It's the language of Metafilter, Internet, eveything. Everybody happy? I'm a native speaker but I don't live in an English speaking country. Apart from the it's inevitable/ I couldn't give a crap, it's my language stuff, is anybody out there ambiguous? (More inside)
posted by Zootoon on Dec 24, 2001 - 62 comments

Al Jazeera english language summary.

Al Jazeera english language summary. Since the original al Jazeera site is in arabic, this wbur website, gives a summary of the stories covered by the network in english. Of course, one can try to translate automatically (ajeeb, registration required), but the results are usually comical.
posted by talos on Nov 23, 2001 - 2 comments

A blistering dissection

A blistering dissection of David Foster Wallace and Simon Winchester's previously published essays on English usage, by Mark Halpern. Though I like some of Wallace's writing, I admit it's nice to see the scalpel taken to Wallace's "style for style's sake".
posted by Big Fat Tycoon on Oct 19, 2001 - 29 comments

A Little Light Relief - and Brush Up Your English While You're At It.

A Little Light Relief - and Brush Up Your English While You're At It. In the spirit of poking fun at one's own flesh and blood - and respecting all those who aren't - I offer the most appalling tribute to Shakespeare's and Emerson's language since time itself began. I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the great Portuguese scholar Pedro Carolino, whose "English As She Is Spoke" Mark Twain considered to be the funniest book ever written. Start with "Familiar Dialogues 1" and, if you've still been able to keep a straight face, try "Idiotisms and Proverbs" for the full effect... (Thanks to Ganz's Humor Page)
posted by MiguelCardoso on Sep 20, 2001 - 19 comments

It's, like, the Like Virus

It's, like, the Like Virus An amusing and misanthropic inquiry into a mysterious linguistic phenomenon.It adds as much to our fair English language as barnacles do to a wharf or calculi to a healthy kidney. So, like, what is it about the word that makes people like us it all the time? (Question mark used to indicate raising vocal pitch at end of sentence)
posted by fellorwaspushed on Sep 4, 2001 - 30 comments

Survey on Learning Standard American English in Black American Communities.

Survey on Learning Standard American English in Black American Communities. This academic survey is designed to gather attitudes among Black Americans regarding Ebonics, better known to linguists at African American Vernacular English.
posted by Mo Nickels on Jul 5, 2001 - 42 comments

You Stupid #@$!

You Stupid #@$! In England, children are learning how to swear. What the #@%&? Aren't they learning enough of this #@&! on the street? I believe that the standards for streets smarts have really slipped over the years. Children should be learning their four letter words at the same place they learn about sex, on the street!
posted by aj100 on Jul 2, 2001 - 9 comments

Freespeling.com (with one el).

Freespeling.com (with one el). Because only 17% of native English speakers can spell "height", "necessary", "accommodation", "separate", "sincerely", and "business" correctly. Good idea or bad idea?
posted by Firda on Apr 5, 2001 - 30 comments

Verb for sarcasm:

Verb for sarcasm: It's a good idea. It's missing from the English language. Not anymore.
posted by borgle on Mar 9, 2001 - 32 comments

How to buy cutting-edge home electronics sold only in Asia — and still be able to read the manuals.

How to buy cutting-edge home electronics sold only in Asia — and still be able to read the manuals. have you ever bought electronics [or anything] through specialty websites that was not available locally? god bless the internet.
posted by palegirl on Mar 7, 2001 - 9 comments

It's easy to get complacent and not learn foreign languages when you speak native English. In the UK, knowledge of foreign languages verges on the comical.
posted by ecvgi on Feb 22, 2001 - 23 comments

Ooooh, those trendy young Brits and their funny new words.

Ooooh, those trendy young Brits and their funny new words. What I can't help wondering is how many people have been sending in made up slang. (via clog).
posted by davidgentle on Dec 14, 2000 - 22 comments

October Coffee Crisis.

October Coffee Crisis. Montreal Gazette: "In its communiques, the BAF warned that Second Cup franchises were to be 'in the line of fire' and warned of an escalation of violent acts if Second Cup and other chains insist on keeping their trademark English names." More Trudeau nostalgia?
posted by todd on Oct 12, 2000 - 7 comments

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