John Gordon Ross

A Man for All Reasons

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Language Stuff

Almost everyone uses language, so inevitably almost everyone thinks they are an expert in it. I don’t consider myself an expert, though most of my work requires at least language competence and sometimes actual skill, but I do follow the blogs featured on this feeds page.

(If you are wondering where the translation-related feeds have all gone, I have put them on their own page.)

Most of the blogs represented here are in English, most of the time, but don’t be surprised to find other languages used. Go with the flow – I occasionally find myself pleasantly surprised at how much I can grasp in languages I have never seen before.

Language On the Net

Urban Word of the Day

Boner Narcolepsy

Posted 14 hours ago

A boner so strong that it drains the blood from your brain and causes you to faint We saw a nice piece of ass walk by and Tim fainted from Boner Narcolepsy. I had no idea he had that strong a dong. [Link]

desk staging

Posted 38 hours ago

The practice of covering your desk with papers, completed work, and other important-looking papers to give the appearance that you are really busy when really you're surfing the net, watching YouTube vids and doing other non-work things. "My realtor taught me this trick of staging my house for sale so I tried it at work, I started desk staging so … [Link]

A Distorted Etymology.

Posted 7 hours ago

This is a very minor issue, but it amused me, so I’m passing it along: in chapter 4 of Gorham’s Speaking in Soviet Tongues (see this post), he is discussing the difficulty of writers (and beginning writers, in the shape of workers’ and village correspondents) in dealing with the confusing variety of forms of speech available in the early 1920s, … [Link]

Edmond Edmont.

Posted 21 hours ago

Cara Giaimo writes in Atlas Obscura about a man I knew nothing about, as well as others in his line of work: Long before we had viral quizzes to gather our peculiarities, there was only [Edmond] Edmont—a linguistic assistant who spent the end of the 19th century bicycling around France, speaking to locals, and cataloguing their unique words and phrases. … [Link]

Omniglot blog

Hybrid languages

Posted 81 minutes ago

There is some interesting discussion about hybrid languages on episodes of the the World in Words podcast that I listened recently. One episode discuss Chiac, a combination of Acadian French and English spoken in New Brunswick in Canada. Examples include: – J’ai backé mon car dans la driveway – Je prends un large double Americano pour sortir This form of … [Link]

Language quiz

Posted 2 days ago

Language quiz image Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken? [Link]

take me to your leader

Posted 6 days ago

The phrase take me to your leader is a science fiction cliché, so much so that in the 2007 “Voyage of the Damned” episode of Doctor Who the time-traveling, title character said, “Take me to your leader! I’ve always wanted to say that!” (Another phrase in that episode that the good doctor always wanted to say was “Allons-y Alonso!”) [Link]

Cunk on Shakespeare

Posted 7 days ago

Philomena Cunk examines the life and work of William Shakespeare: Cunk, played by comedian Diane Morgan, has this to say about Richard III: Shakespeare wrote loads of plays about royals, known as his history plays. It was his way of pleasing the king and queen by doing stuff about their families, a bit like when your mum buys the local … [Link]

Language Log

About those grilled fevers…

Posted 12 hours ago

From Steve Kass: My brother is traveling in Portugal and posted this on Instagram. That’s all I know. I bet our readers can figure out what Portuguese words were naively mistranslated to create this list — and perhaps even finger the dictionary or translation app responsible. For example, I suspect that "Interspersed" might be a mistranslation of (the Portuguese word … [Link]

Firestorm over Chinese characters

Posted 27 hours ago

It began with a one page think piece by Ted Chiang in the New Yorker (5/16/16) that we describe and discuss here: "Ted Chiang uninvents Chinese characters" (5/13/16) That very quickly led to a withering critique against Chiang by Tom Mullaney, essentially accusing him of "(self-)Orientalizing" (which is meant to be pejorative, for those who are not familiar with the … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Lame duck

Posted 18 days ago

Why are outgoing politicians so called 'lame ducks'? [Link]

New online: Logomaniac

Posted 18 days ago

'Logomaniac' means an obsessive interest in words. [Link]

You Don't Say

Moving on

Posted 4 years ago

Today You Don’t Say relocates to a new Web address and new software. You will be able to find it at where … [Link]

A spell of rough weather

Posted 4 years ago

There was a mild dustup today on the Internet over, of all things, spelling.The rhubarb started when Anne Trubek flung down the gauntlet with a suggestion in Wi … [Link]

Talk Wordy to Me

That time I got accused of making a bomb in school but did not get fucking arrested

Posted 8 months ago

OK so by now you have probably heard about the 14-year-old in Irving, Texas, who was arrested cause he is a fucking genius who built a goddamn clock out of circuit boards and wanted his teachers to be proud of him but instead they were racist at him and he got hauled off by the fucking cops WHO ALSO THINK … [Link]

Asking for a bit more help for Goofus

Posted 15 months ago

2015-03-08 13.09.31 UPDATE: We’ve raised $1,560 this week. From Goofus, Lauren, and I, thank you so much for all of your help, you’ve gotten us out of the woods on this. I’ve taken down the Paypal donate button. Hey everyone. So earlier this year, we raised some money to help pay for some of the medical costs of getting two kitty sisters … [Link]

the world in words

A bilingual seal of approval for high school graduates

Posted 17 months ago

Peter Kuskie and Maria Regalado are students at Hillsboro High in Oregon and are on track to receive a new bilingual seal on their diplomas. (Photo: Monica Campbell) Read this post from Monica Campbell. Or listen to the podcast above. Let’s take a trip back to September 1995, when Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole was talking about education on the campaign … [Link]

A Soviet-era storytelling game trains you to bluff, lie and sometimes tell the truth

Posted 18 months ago

A tense moment during a game of “Mafia” in Kiev, Ukraine. (Photo courtesy of the English Mafia Club of Kiev) Read this post from Alina Simone. Or listen to the podcast above. The storytelling parlor game “Mafia” crosses borders, transcends culture and bridges the language divide in ways you’d never expect. There are no game boards or joysticks involved in Mafia … [Link]


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