879 posts tagged with language.
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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 - 41 comments

MEEF-EYE

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

Hwæt a minute mister postman

Check it! We may have been mistranslating the first word of Beowulf for 200 years.
posted by Iridic on Jul 23, 2015 - 64 comments

Read from left to right, top to bottom, and outside to inside

Pyroglyphics and The Secret Language of Cattle Branding
posted by a lungful of dragon on Jul 21, 2015 - 21 comments

all technical problems are people problems that manifest technically

The Life Cycle of Programming Languages, by Betsy Haibel [previously] for Model View Culture. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 15, 2015 - 115 comments

A Tart My Dears, A Tart

How British Gay Men Used To Talk: A short film featuring Polari, the cult language of UK homosexuals derived from theatre and circus slang, popularized in the 1960s by the camp radio characters Julian and Sandy. Need a dictionary? Or a translated Polari scene from Velvet Goldmine?
posted by The Whelk on Jul 8, 2015 - 47 comments

The Curse of Knowledge

Why is good writing on technical subjects so hard to find? A popular explanation is that bureaucrats, scientists, doctors, and lawyers who write dense prose are intentionally obfuscating their writing to appear more intelligent than they are. After all, no one likes reading hashes of passive clauses salted with jargon and acronyms--not even fellow specialists. Stephen Pinker, however, has an alternate take on the issue. What if knowing a lot about a topic directly interferes with your ability to effectively communicate it?
posted by sciatrix on Jul 3, 2015 - 56 comments

The alphabet of months: a year of living with multiple sclerosis

I write a lot of notes to myself these days, but this one is different. Remember the body. A strange thought. How could I forget it? And yet I do.
[...]
I have had MS for a little over a year and this has been the surprising, sometimes embarrassing challenge in my particular case: where does the disease end and where do I begin? What is the illness and what is just my maddening response to it?
Games writer Christian Donlan (previously) writes about neurology, language and life since his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis.
posted by Otto the Magnificent on Jun 30, 2015 - 11 comments

Fiddle...sticks.

Taming of the Fuckery is graduate design student Sneha Keshav's 100 day project to identify colorful alternatives to the formerly taboo but now all too ubiquitous 'F-Word' and display them creatively. If you don't like it, you can Go Hug a Porcupine, because I Don't Give a Tiny Rat's Buttcrack.
posted by oneswellfoop on Jun 19, 2015 - 63 comments

"Huffle: a piece of beaʃtiality too filthy for explanation"

The Tumblr blog "Over the Hills and Far Away", aka "Beggars Opera: History, Fashion, Romance and Deadpan Snarking" has researched and collected the Best of A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, 1st and 2nd editions (1785 and 1788 - source material from Google Books).
Part One: Admiral of the Narrow Seas - Breeches ; Part Two: Cackling Farts - Duck F-ck-r ; Part Three: Flash Lingo - Goose Riding ; Part Four: Hopkins - Medlar ; Part Five: Member Mug - Potato Trap ; Part Six: Punk - Sugar Stick ; Part Seven: Tallywags - Welch Rabbit ; All Parts in Reverse Order .
Come for the "Queen Dick", stay for the lower-case 's' that looks like 'f'. ("Boʃom"! "Teʃticles"!)
posted by oneswellfoop on Jun 15, 2015 - 34 comments

Sing with more terror!!!

The Average Fourth Grader Is a Better Poet Than You (and Me Too) [more inside]
posted by casarkos on Jun 8, 2015 - 18 comments

FREMDAJ EN LA NOKT

But the final item on the meeting’s agenda underscored what all those virtual Esperantists were missing. After the speeches, Neil got up and passed out sheets printed with the lyrics to "Fremdaj en la Nokt," the Esperanto version of the Sinatra hit "Strangers in the Night." He explained that a particular Italian Esperantist had an extensive YouTube presence and a habit of jumping into worldwide Esperanto forums and Facebook groups to plug his singing. This was one of his better songs. Neil settled back down behind his banquet table, counted out the time, and the eight attending members of the New York Esperanto Society started to sing.
posted by growabrain on May 29, 2015 - 14 comments

/vərˈbōs/

From plitter to drabbletail: a few writers choose the words they love. [The Guardian] [Books]
Dialect terms such as yokeymajig or whiffle-whaffle; all-time favourites like cochineal, clot or eschew; antiquated phrases such as ‘playing the giddy ox’ … leading writers on the words they cherish.
[more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 29, 2015 - 32 comments

What I post, I post.

The game is the game, what's done is done, and it is what it is.
The Wire: Tautology Supercut [SLYT, NSFW]

posted by Room 641-A on May 29, 2015 - 20 comments

The Unsung Heroes of Eurovision

The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest winner has now been crowned (previously), but the real stars of the contest were the fabulous and entertaining International Sign interpreters. [more inside]
posted by zebra on May 25, 2015 - 16 comments

How long animals live (in ISOTYPE)

How long do animals live? (via) [more inside]
posted by aniola on May 20, 2015 - 37 comments

Helen Zaltzman milks the udders of language

The Allusionist is a language podcast with a etymological focus by podcaster and linguist Helen Zaltzman. The episodes are about fifteen minutes long and the ones so far have focused on political terms, spaces between words, crosswords, fake dictionary entries, museum display text, latin, curse words [explicit], the term viral, bras, but perhaps it's best to start with the first episode, where Zaltzman interviews her brother Andy on the subject of puns. The Extra Allusionism blog is also worth reading.
posted by Kattullus on May 16, 2015 - 13 comments

it is a form of grammatical resistance as a deconstructionist

Indigenous Architecture through Indigenous Knowledge: Dim sagalts’apkw nisim̓ [Together we will build a village] by Patrick Robert Reid Stewart

UBC student writes 52,438 word architecture dissertation with no punctuation — not everyone loved it
posted by andoatnp on May 8, 2015 - 55 comments

Eeny, meeny, miny, mo: Counting ditties long ago

Eena, meena, mina, mo, / Cracka, feena, fina, fo, / Uppa, nootcha, poppa, tootcha, / Ring, ding, dang, doe. "Losing Count: “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo” and the ambiguous history of counting-out rhymes," from The Paris Review.
posted by MonkeyToes on Apr 22, 2015 - 30 comments

semi-judiciously sprinkling some 'fucks' into your web pages

Fuck Shit Up is a Chrome extension that semi-judiciously sprinkles some "fuck"s into whatever web page you're reading. Not enough fucks? Hit the button a few more times. Gets interesting results when applied to news, dry technical stuff, Wikipedia, and Twitter at the least. [via mefi projects]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Apr 21, 2015 - 50 comments

Two Countries, Separated By A Common Tongue

How to Pronounce UK Place Names (SLYT) "Anglophenia's Siobhan Thompson teaches Science Friction's Rusty Ward—and the rest of America—how to pronounce difficult British place names."
posted by Michele in California on Apr 20, 2015 - 144 comments

"The lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach"

Today is the 260th anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language. It was an innovative, landmark work, which focused on not just "hard words" (as previous dictionaries had), and also introduced the practice of providing quotations from authors illustrating the definitions. There's a dictionary quiz night in London if you can make it.
posted by anothermug on Apr 15, 2015 - 13 comments

"No, yes", "No, totally", and the "no" prefix as conversational element

"At first blush, 'no' does not appear to be the kind of word whose meaning you can monkey with." Kathryn Schulz dissects the use of "no" at the beginning of conversational turns, and discusses how it may be a reaction to the loss of our previous "four-form system of negation and affirmation" that included "yea" and "nay".
posted by brainwane on Apr 7, 2015 - 61 comments

We study words so they can become tools instead of unwitting weapons.

Conscious Style Guide is a simple and accessible community resource for anyone curious or serious about conscious language. [more inside]
posted by Shmuel510 on Mar 22, 2015 - 21 comments

Try, try again? Study says no

Neuroscientists find that trying harder makes it more difficult to learn some aspects of language.
In a new study, a team of neuroscientists and psychologists led by Amy Finn, a postdoc at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, has found evidence for another factor that contributes to adults’ language difficulties: When learning certain elements of language, adults’ more highly developed cognitive skills actually get in the way. The researchers discovered that the harder adults tried to learn an artificial language, the worse they were at deciphering the language’s morphology — the structure and deployment of linguistic units such as root words, suffixes, and prefixes.
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Mar 22, 2015 - 10 comments

Second-Class Languages

I Can Text You A Pile of Poo, But I Can’t Write My Name [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Mar 22, 2015 - 55 comments

Good evening, Europe ... and Australia!

With all of the national selections now made, let's take a look at how the Eurovision Song Contest's 60th anniversary is shaping up. Terribad songs ahead; enter at your own risk. [more inside]
posted by zebra on Mar 21, 2015 - 23 comments

In the world of sign language, this man is Michael Jackson

Swedish sign language interpreter, Tommy Krångh, interpreted and danced his way through a song performed by singer Magnus Carlsson on Melodifestivalen.
posted by gman on Mar 16, 2015 - 8 comments

If you can read this sentence, you can talk with a scientist.

Science once communicated in a polyglot of tongues, but now English rules alone. How did this happen – and at what cost?
posted by standardasparagus on Mar 15, 2015 - 45 comments

There Is No ‘Proper English’

There Is No ‘Proper English’. From Oliver Kamm of The Times:
It’s a perpetual lament: The purity of the English language is under assault. These days we are told that our ever-texting teenagers can’t express themselves in grammatical sentences. The media delight in publicizing ostensibly incorrect usage. A few weeks ago, pundits and columnists lauded a Wikipedia editor in San Jose, Calif., who had rooted out and changed no fewer than 47,000 instances where contributors to the online encyclopedia had written “comprised of” rather than “composed of.” Does anyone doubt that our mother tongue is in deep decline?
Well, for one, I do. It is well past time to consign grammar pedantry to the history books.
[more inside]
posted by Richard Holden on Mar 14, 2015 - 81 comments

The Indo-European Wars

Over the past few years, some researchers have been arguing using mathematical tree-building and dating techniques, that the Indo-Europeans originated in Anatolia. In an article [.pdf] in the latest issue of Language, a group of historical and computational linguists using similar techniques say otherwise . [more inside]
posted by damayanti on Mar 10, 2015 - 17 comments

Ye truth is yt ys might surprise you!

So where exactly did "ye olde" come from? (SLYT)
posted by Blue Jello Elf on Mar 4, 2015 - 31 comments

Consider The Clinkerbell, The Daggler, and The Shuckle

Robert Macfarlane says we are losing the best descriptive words for our landscape. This matters, he says, "because language deficit leads to attention deficit. As we deplete our ability to denote and figure particular aspects of our places, so our competence for understanding and imagining possible relationships with non-human nature is correspondingly depleted. To quote the American farmer and essayist Wendell Berry – a man who in my experience speaks the crash-tested truth – “people exploit what they have merely concluded to be of value, but they defend what they love, and to defend what we love we need a particularising language, for we love what we particularly know.”"
posted by purplesludge on Feb 27, 2015 - 23 comments

As a society, we have now passed peak bae.

According to a British linguist's research on Twitter users in the U.S. (direct link to 55-page PDF), what do young Southern black women and young Northern and Western white men have in common? They're "lexical innovators" whose slang creation skills are on fleek. [more inside]
posted by fuse theorem on Feb 24, 2015 - 71 comments

Hither and Jawn

New research examines the spread (or not) of local dialectical terms on Twitter. [PDF] [more inside]
posted by me3dia on Feb 18, 2015 - 24 comments

I'll eat you up, I love you so

Shortly after meeting my wife, she introduced me to the nuanced meaning that the Spanish word nervio had acquired in the lexicon of her family. As used in their Chilean home, the word could be defined as a feeling of such intense affection that one trembles or grits his teeth with restraint so as not to harm the object of his affection. I have heard others allude to the sensation in seemingly bizarre phrases such as, "It's so cute [that] I want to squeeze it to death." I often ask people about nervio. For those like me who have experienced it frequently throughout their lives, a complete definition is unnecessary and the word fills a void in their vocabulary. With others, my description is often greeted with bewilderment. Having never felt such a sensation, it is hard for them to imagine.
More? Tagalog's gigil, corporal cuddling, and some scientific insights into the "cute aggression" phenomenon
posted by Rhaomi on Feb 14, 2015 - 67 comments

Human language reveals a universal positivity bias

Or so say researchers in a new study in the February 9 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Here's their paper's abstract: "Using human evaluation of 100,000 words spread across 24 corpora in 10 languages diverse in origin and culture, we present evidence of a deep imprint of human sociality in language, observing that (i) the words of natural human language possess a universal positivity bias, (ii) the estimated emotional content of words is consistent between languages under translation, and (iii) this positivity bias is strongly independent of frequency of word use. Alongside these general regularities, we describe interlanguage variations in the emotional spectrum of languages that allow us to rank corpora. We also show how our word evaluations can be used to construct physical-like instruments for both real-time and offline measurement of the emotional content of large-scale texts." And here are descriptions of the research in Science Daily and the LA Times.
posted by Sir Rinse on Feb 10, 2015 - 43 comments

Uh...

Um, here’s an, uh, map that shows where Americans use 'um' vs. 'uh.' "Every language has filler words that speakers use in nervous moments or to buy time while thinking. Two of the most common of these in English are 'uh' and 'um.' They might seem interchangeable, but data show that their usage break down across surprising geographic lines. Hmm." And these lines may give evidence of the so-called Midland dialect. [more inside]
posted by wintersweet on Feb 8, 2015 - 44 comments

/FAN-shaw/

A list of shibboleth names, with correct pronunciations.
posted by Iridic on Feb 2, 2015 - 277 comments

You Don't Say?

@YouDontSay

Duke student-athletes join forces with You Don't Say? campaign
You Don’t Say? is a campaign founded by senior Daniel Kort and juniors Anuj Chhabra, Christie Lawrence and Jay Sullivan that aims to raise student awareness about the offensive nature of phrases and slurs used in everyday conversation through photographs shared using an online campaign. Starting Jan. 7, the group began to roll out its second online push, only this time instead of 17 students, the project featured 41 Duke student-athletes.

“Sports are really integral to our campus culture, and with that comes a pretty big microphone around our athletic culture,” Kort said. “It’s easier to dismiss a message if it’s coming from a social justice-oriented group on campus…. By getting people who aren’t traditionally seen as the social justice kids on campus to stand up for this message, it carries a lot more weight. It’s also that these student-athletes care a lot about the issues.”
[more inside]
posted by Lexica on Jan 20, 2015 - 14 comments

Idle vapourings of a mind diseased

Unparliamentary Language in New Zealand [more inside]
posted by Start with Dessert on Jan 16, 2015 - 27 comments

You say potato scallop, I say potato cake (and I'm right)

Mel Campbell mines the Macquarie and her own Melbournian experience to come up with six divisive regional slang terms that just might result in an Australian civil war, if last year's Scallop War is anything to go by. [more inside]
posted by Athanassiel on Jan 8, 2015 - 97 comments

"What is occurring everybody?"

Xhosa, one of the Bantu languages used in South Africa has often confounded non-native speakers with its use of "clicks". Fortunately, you can learn how to use them yourself! [more inside]
posted by quin on Jan 8, 2015 - 27 comments

The OED in two minutes

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]
posted by dng on Jan 8, 2015 - 18 comments

I'm not your buddy, bro. I'm not your bro, dude. I'm not your dude, pal

Texas is bro country. But the term also covers the entirety of Oklahoma, and almost all of Louisiana and Arkansas, plus good chunks of Kansas and New Mexico. A mid-sized gathering of bros straddles the Michigan-Indiana border, and a tiny bro community lives by the seaside on either side of the Virginia-North Carolina state line.
American regional variations in what you call your male best friends. By Frank Jacobs.
posted by MartinWisse on Jan 3, 2015 - 94 comments

A sweary blog about swearing

Strong Language is a new blog about profanity, cusswords, vulgar fuckin' language. Started just a week ago by James Harbeck and (MeFi's own) Stan Carey after discovering their shared frustration at not having a place to talk (swearily) about swearing, it already has ten posts by various authors covering such topics as the phonology of cusswords, whether shit is a contronym, the effectiveness of swearing in John Carpenter's The Thing, and a post reviving the cult classic linguistics article "English sentences without overt grammatical subjects" (previously).
posted by narain on Dec 18, 2014 - 38 comments

Deliver Us

Ridley Scott's new film Exodus: Gods and Kings recasts the myth of Moses in typically grimdark swords-and-sandals fashion. It... ain't so good. Want something more artful? Look no further than The Prince of Egypt [alt], an underrated masterpiece of DreamWorks' traditional animation era. Directed by Brenda Chapman (a first for women in animation), scored to spectacular effect by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz, and voiced by, among others, Voldemort, Batman, and Professor X, the ambitious film features gorgeous, striking visuals and tastefully integrated CGI in nearly every scene. It also manages the improbable feat of maturing beyond cartoon clichés while humanizing the prophet's journey from carefree scion to noble (and remorseful) liberator without offending half the planet -- while still being quite a fun ride. Already seen it? Catch the making-of documentary, or click inside for more. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Dec 15, 2014 - 86 comments

It's not an insult; it's local slang for the Washington Monument

The District of Columbia has many speakers of American Sign Language, given the presence of Gallaudet University and a large Deaf community. Here are a smattering of local signs.
posted by ocherdraco on Dec 15, 2014 - 17 comments

sucking the wheel

The excellent Copenhagenize blog presents a short glossary of idioms, in Danish and a few other languages, that are semantically derived from cycling terminology.
posted by threeants on Dec 12, 2014 - 11 comments

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