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The Metaphor Program

Daniel Soar on the militarisation of metaphor: Spies aren’t known for their cultural sensitivity. So it was a surprise when news broke last month that IARPA, a US government agency that funds ‘high-risk/high-payoff research’ into areas of interest to the ‘intelligence community’, had put out a call for contributions to its Metaphor Program, a five-year project to discover what a foreign culture’s metaphors can reveal about its beliefs.
posted by jack_mo on Jun 27, 2011 - 41 comments

metafilter = cvcvcvccvc

The "convowel" tag on Wordnik tracks consonant-vowel patterns in words. "bleeding", "pheasant", "shoeless", "trousers" — ccvvcvcc; "quiet", "naiad", "Sioux", "feuar" — cvvvc; "anglophile", "attractive", "impressure", "ingressive" — vcccvccvcv
posted by Rory Marinich on May 26, 2011 - 41 comments

Friending Iceland

Halló humans on the Inter-net. My name is Iceland. I am an island, full of mountains and glaciers and hot water and sheep and many nice Icelandic people, who like to make music, and who are sometimes cold. (Maybe you have seen me on your tele-visions, or your Inter-net.) I have heard that many humans use the Inter-net to make friends, and to talk about themselves. I decided to do this, too.
                      Iceland wants to be your friend. [more inside]
posted by carsonb on May 19, 2011 - 57 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

Wonderful Wordage

The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English and The 100 Funniest Words in English by Robert "Dr. Goodword" Beard. Yes, it's promoting a couple of books, but scroll down to see the complete lists (and a few examples of his write-ups on each). Nothing LOLCAT-ish, you ailurophiles, but good for your abibliophobia. I hope the fine assemblage here at MetaFilter (you are all so becoming and not at all anencephalous) will not beleaguer the author or cause an argle-bargle. Well, I must absquatulate, so, see you later allegator.
posted by oneswellfoop on Dec 26, 2010 - 74 comments

Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster Online has come up with its take on the top word of the year -- plus nine others that are close to the top. (I'm partial to no. 10, furtive, myself.)
posted by anothermug on Dec 22, 2010 - 25 comments

Word search

Google's new Ngram Viewer lets you track the history of words in six languages, including several flavo(u)rs of English. Whether it's the rise and fall of a single word, the evolution of technology, or the mysterious seventeenth-century proliferation of fart jokes, there's a lot to play with. More at the Official Google Blog.
posted by theodolite on Dec 16, 2010 - 74 comments

word: /wɜrd/ -noun 1. a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

Words of the World is a site dedicated to the exploration and life of words and language. [more inside]
posted by Cat Pie Hurts on Oct 24, 2010 - 8 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

Only Puzz

PuzzGrid is a lightweight, fast game of forming associations, which is, ahem, "based on" the BBC's Only Connect. Hundreds of grids to play and you can submit your own, too! (The BBC site has a few dozen more, in a fancier, louder flash app.)
posted by Wolfdog on Sep 20, 2010 - 40 comments

Hotword Blog has a blog! It explains, usually in fairly short articles, the etymology of different words, the reason September is the ninth month, and what an "Emmy" is, among others.
posted by lauratheexplorer on Sep 15, 2010 - 7 comments

"Impossible is a word only to be found in the dictionary of fools."

Climate change and the vuvuzela leave mark on Oxford Dictionary of English. Other words and phrases introduced for the latest edition include 'toxic debt', 'staycation', 'cheesebal' and 'national treasure'. To balance them out among the 2,000 or so new items there are a few more left-field choices. Among them are 'cheeseball', which refers to someone or something lacking taste, style or originality, and the more disturbing phenomenon of 'hikikomori', the Japanese word for the acute social withdrawal that occurs in some teenage boys.
posted by Fizz on Aug 19, 2010 - 18 comments

Game theory and hangman.

'Jazz' is the best word to use in hangman.
posted by shakespeherian on Aug 19, 2010 - 96 comments

What does that word mean, NYT?

The New York Times has compiled a list of the 50 words which are most frequently queried in their stories. Mirabile dictu (no. 19) that it's redoutable (no. 17)!
posted by anothermug on Jun 13, 2010 - 45 comments

Knowledge but bite sized, often surreal with lots of jokes

Ten Word Wiki is an Encyclopedia for the ADD generation.
We describe everything in ten words exactly. Here's the Index.
posted by finite on Feb 23, 2010 - 38 comments

Raw Material for Puns

When Alan Cooper was in the second grade, his teacher introduced him to "homonyms," those words, like "caret" and "carrot" that are pronounced the same, but are spelled differently, and that have different meanings. The concept intrigued him, and over the years he has maintained an ever-growing list. Alan Cooper's Homonyms. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Feb 20, 2010 - 54 comments

With/In loving memory.

  • You are always in my prayers
  • He/She would be very happy to know that you loved him/her so much

  • For a Friendly Neighbor
  • For a Wife

  • Nevermind why you'd give condolences to "a wife..." let's hope she's not YOURS... will help you fake like you are nice and caring, not just when writing the obit, but at any sorrowful time, big or small. And so much more than just condolence letters you can copy. [more inside]
    posted by Ambrosia Voyeur on Feb 7, 2010 - 35 comments

    Renaming The Beaver

    The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine Canada's second-oldest magazine, published since 1920, will be changing its name because in this age of electronic communications its emails keep getting removed by spam filters.
    posted by GuyZero on Jan 12, 2010 - 37 comments

    Malaysian churches attacked over "Allah"

    Malaysian Catholic newspaper Herald was recently involved in a major lawsuit against the Malaysian government, stating that their constitutional rights were violated when they were stripped of their license to publish in East Malaysian indigenous language Kadazandusun. The ruling was overturned, amidst support by state ministers and protests by the Government, the Islamic Opposition party, and Muslim activists - some of whom have spent the past week attacking churches and convents through firebombs, Molotov cocktails, paint, and bricks thrown at glass. [more inside]
    posted by divabat on Jan 10, 2010 - 25 comments

    Regex Dictionary

    Regex Dictionary - for those times when you want a web-based dictionary you can search with regular expressions.
    posted by Wolfdog on Dec 21, 2009 - 31 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

    Unfriend Has Been Faved

    The New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year is.... UNFRIEND. That's right, the negation of the verbification of 'friend'. Well, it's not quite as cringe-worthy as some of the runners-up... Teabagger?!? And previous winners of this honor were Hypermiling (2008), Locavore (2007), Carbon-Neutral (2006) and Podcast (2005) (links include each year's finalists, including frugalista, staycation, bacn, mumblecore, Islamofascism, funner, lifehack and squick). Best comment about the WotY (so far)? "an unreliable yet fascinating barometer of tech". But, at risk of over-editorializing, these look more like candidates for the Banished Words List. Clearly better is the recent list of "A Word a Year, 1906-2006" from Oxford's website (if only for the invaluable perspective of time).
    posted by oneswellfoop on Nov 17, 2009 - 73 comments

    Silent Conversation

    Silent conversation, a truly beautiful flash game that has you trying to touch as many words of a poem as you can. (Yes it does have Williams Carlos Williams) [more inside]
    posted by litleozy on Aug 14, 2009 - 16 comments

    A post for all the epeoloatrists

    Do you know what you would see a hypothecary about? Have stared down into a joola? Ever come across a jigget of sheep? Has someone called you a slubberdegullion to your face? Learn these and many more words from blogger Robin Bloor's fun 10 Words You Don't Know series of posts. Perhaps the most entertaining is the one where Bloor provides explanatory limericks with his definitions.
    posted by Kattullus on Aug 7, 2009 - 27 comments

    You say poe-TAY-toe.

    Forvo: All the words in the world, pronounced by native speakers. At the time of this post, the tally stands at: 327,492 words; 239,165 pronunciations; in 220 languages; with 25,040 users submitting.
    posted by not_on_display on Aug 4, 2009 - 26 comments

    wetness ... pours onto my paper out of my pen

    Suheir Hammad, a Palestinian-American poet and activist now based in New York, writes about being a Muslim immigrant and also a woman challenging conventions. Spotted by Russell Simmons for Def Poetry Jam, she has performed pieces about love in the time of war, exoticising beauty, and a touching ode to her father, among many others. Suheir has just produced and released her first feature film Salt of This Sea, up for the Cannes Films Festival and possibly an Oscar, and recently performed in Ramallah for the 2009 Palestinian Festival of Literature.
    posted by divabat on Jul 7, 2009 - 5 comments

    Neologisms + Aves = wordbirds

    wordbirds: word coinages illustrated by photos of birds. Glutenglutton Aplorable Mealbreaker Apoca-lips
    posted by Stewriffic on Jul 1, 2009 - 9 comments

    Find the word you can't think of

    Tip of My Tongue: Find that word you've been thinking about all day but just can't seem to remember.
    posted by Miko on Jun 27, 2009 - 26 comments

    All the news that's fit to cromulate

    The 50 words that generate the most click-throughs to the dictionary from the New York Times. The Nieman Journalism Lab reveals the words that sent NYT readers running to the Merriam-Webster. Key fact: Maureen Dowd is overly fond of the word "louche." If the post is TL;DR for you, here's the list in Wordle.
    posted by escabeche on Jun 15, 2009 - 132 comments

    Base 26

    Java Demo: "four-letter words have a special status in the english language and culture. counting in at over 1650 words,...this small project is an attempt to give a spacial overview of the entirety of this part of english language heritage, as well as to explore and visualize relations between all those words."
    posted by hortense on Jun 4, 2009 - 18 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

    Should the rules of Scrabble be changed?

    Za and qi are now worth more than money, power, and sex. [more inside]
    posted by twoleftfeet on Mar 18, 2009 - 53 comments

    Death of the dirty word

    Why would an evolutionary biologist study words? It turns out there is an astonishing parallel between the evolution of words in a lexicon and the evolution of genes in an organism. The word two, for example, has been around much longer than most, and will likely be with us for millennia, whereas the comparatively rare and recent word dirty has undergone many mutations, and will probably be extinct in a few hundred years. Professor Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK, tells us why on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens. Pull slider to 16:00 to start the seven minute interview.
    posted by weapons-grade pandemonium on Mar 7, 2009 - 49 comments

    Constellations of Words:Explore the Etymology and Symbolism of the Constellations

    Constellations of Words : Explore the Etymology and Symbolism of the Constellations
    posted by sidr on Feb 25, 2009 - 6 comments

    Yes yes! Pick me!

    Save the Words. Do lost words still have meaning? Just because society has neglected them doesn't make them any less of a word. How do you get lost words back in the dictionary? With lexicographers scanning publications and other communication for words not currently housed in the dictionary, all you need do is use your adopted words as often as possible. Go, Adopt a Word. Like graocracy.* * - government by an old woman or women. [more inside]
    posted by Tufa on Jan 29, 2009 - 37 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

    Defining Imagery

    The Photographic Dictionary defines words through the personal meaning found in each picture. M is for mask, E is for ephemeral, T is for twin, A if for alone.
    posted by netbros on Nov 27, 2008 - 5 comments

    “You say?” Apparently they do.

    It's not even Thanksgiving yet and already the 2008 "best of" lists have begun. Here's a list of the Top 60 popular Japanese words/phrases of 2008. "Morning banana" doesn't mean what you think it does. Is Sarah Palin an obaka-aidoru - おバカアイドル ? (via)
    posted by tractorfeed on Nov 18, 2008 - 14 comments


    Meh. (Previously).
    posted by swift on Nov 17, 2008 - 61 comments

    You Betcha

    This f*cking election. A babble tower.
    posted by digaman on Nov 2, 2008 - 100 comments

    A Presidential Word-a-Day

    The wonderful wordsmith, Anu Garg, at has posted five words this week: "To barrack"."Bidentate"."Meeken". "Palinode". "Obambulate". Definitions inside. [more inside]
    posted by Tarn on Oct 24, 2008 - 26 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? 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

    Stephan Kinsella's rulings on term coolness

    Annoying and/or pretentious terms: "jejune", "pyjamas", "piping hot", "social justice". Cool terms: "cogitate", "cul-de-sac", "high dudgeon", "orangutan".
    posted by colinmarshall on Oct 17, 2008 - 112 comments

    another time sink

    another day, another word
    posted by netbros on Oct 14, 2008 - 35 comments

    From the original Greek, meaning 'I like big donuts'

    A Brief History of English, with Chronology by Suzanne Kemmer is one of many articles at Words in English, a website designed as "a resource for those who want to learn more about this fascinating language – its history as a language, the origins of its words, and its current modern characteristics."
    posted by blue_beetle on Oct 4, 2008 - 37 comments


    Fan-diddly-damn-tastic! The whirly-twirly-leapy-flippy world of nonce words. When something is crappy, do you ever yearn for synonyms such as crapitudinous, crapfestacular, and craposcopic? (via ADS-L)
    posted by strangeguitars on Oct 1, 2008 - 49 comments

    "Telescopic Text"

    I made tea. {Flash, I think. Via notcot.}
    posted by dobbs on Aug 18, 2008 - 59 comments

    Two effect they're effluent capitol.

    Confusing Words is a collection of 3210 words that are troublesome to readers and writers. Words are grouped according to the way they are most often confused or misused.
    posted by blue_beetle on Aug 11, 2008 - 76 comments

    the is and it are you of

    The 100 Most Common Words In The English Language

    see how many you can guess in 5 minutes
    posted by clearly on Aug 6, 2008 - 124 comments

    silver, orange, purple, month

    Write Rhymes : As you write, hold the alt key and click on a word to find a rhyme for it...
    posted by blue_beetle on Jul 29, 2008 - 39 comments

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