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

Omniglot blog

7000 Languages Project

Posted 38 hours ago

I heard about an interesting project today: 7000 Languages Project – the goal of the project is to create web- and mobile-delivered learning materials for the 7,000 languages beyond the top 100 or so that attract significant commercial support. The 7000 Languages Project involves creating Langscape, an online portal for learning about languages worldwide, that combines an interactive language map … [Link]

Frost, Ice cream and Father Christmas

Posted 4 days ago

When I learnt a Russian word for frost – мороз (moróz) – this week I thought that the word for ice cream – мороженое (morózhenoe) – might come from the same root. According to Wikitionary they are related: мороженое comes from морозить (to freeze) from мороз, which comes from the Proto-Slavic *morzъ (frost). Related words include: – заморозок (zamorozok) = … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day

Shit the bed

Posted 23 hours ago

A sudden and complete failure or collapse producing a profoundly negative result. The Canadian 2011 Junior hockey team shit the bed in the third period against the Russians. [Link]

closet psycho

Posted 47 hours ago

when you first start to date someone and they seem normal but as time goes on their craziness comes out. Adam: I thought Sam was a cool person until I moved in with her and turns out she's a major closet psycho [Link]

There Is No Language Instinct.

Posted 6 hours ago

Linguist Vyvyan Evans has a piece in Aeon that gives a good rundown of the arguments against Chomsky’s irritatingly influential theory of the language instinct; here’s the conclusion: From this perspective, we don’t have to assume a special language instinct; we just need to look at the sorts of changes that made us who we are, the changes that paved … [Link]

The Writer without Static.

Posted 29 hours ago

I finally got around to reading Patrick Modiano’s Nobel lecture (in English, because I am lazy; here‘s the original French), and I liked it a lot; here are some of the bits that particularly struck me: A novelist can never be his own reader, except when he is ridding his manuscript of syntax errors, repetitions or the occasional superfluous paragraph. … [Link]

Language Log

Kanji of the year 2014

Posted 3 hours ago

As chosen by ballots to the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Public Interest Foundation (Nihon Kanji Nōryoku Kentei Kyōkai 日本漢字能力検定協会, more commonly known as Kanken 漢検), the annual "Kanji of the Year" (kotoshi no kanji 今年の漢字) for 2014 is zei 税 ("tax"), with 8,679 (5.18% of the total) votes. In addition to the hike in the consumption tax from 5% ~ … [Link]

Chinese WOTY 2014

Posted 5 hours ago

Three years ago, Language Log covered what we referred to as the "Morpheme(s) of the Year" (12/17/11). Two years ago, we advanced to "Chinese character of the year: mèng 梦 ('dream')" (12/25/12). And last year, we looked at "'Words / Characters of the Year' for 2013 in Taiwan and in China" (12/26/13). Toward the end of last month, the tension … [Link]

Strong Language

Posted 41 hours ago

There’s a new blog in town, one aimed at “language geeks to talk about things they can’t talk about in more polite contexts.” Specifically, the blog Strong Language is all about vulgarities. Strong Language is the brainchild of linguist James Harbeck and editor Stan Carey, who each have their own excellent language blogs. The blog also features contributions from other … [Link]

English 3.0

Posted 4 weeks ago

Joe Gilbert has created English 3.0, a twenty-minute documentary on the state of the English language, featuring the likes of Tom Chatfield, David Crystal, Robert McCrum, Fiona McPherson and Simon Horobin. English 3.0 from Joe Gilbert on Vimeo. It’s quite good. One comment mentioned by several of those interviewed that I have my doubts about concerns the “revolution” in language … [Link]

the world in words

A bilingual seal of approval for high school graduates

Posted 9 days 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 15 days 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]

You Don't Say

Moving on

Posted 3 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 3 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

Walk through the neighborhood

Posted 6 days ago

berries-004 trucks-001 things-002 rusty-003 water-004 moss-001 drain-002 berries2-003 Today was the first sunny day we’ve had in a week, so I finally got out in the neighborhood with my new camera. I’m playing with Lyn to organize and edit my photos. It is working pretty well. A lot less bells and whistles than Picasa, and a lot more fine-tuning options. [Link]

These little guys need a nice New England home

Posted 6 weeks ago

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 So, yeah, we have these little guys in our basement. Goofus is 6 and Foxy is 8. They are both healthy (but we’re taking them to the vet next week to be sure). We’d love to keep them, but our house is just too small with two other cats. I’d be happy to drive them anywhere in New England to … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

Updated online: Ampersand

Posted 3 days ago

'Ampersand' comes from an old way of teaching children the alphabet. [Link]

New online: Horse creature

Posted 8 days ago

Why did people once speak of 'horse creatures', rather than just horses? [Link]


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