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

fleek

Posted 6 hours ago

on point Eyebrows on fleek Eyebrows on point [Link]

that's how we roll

Posted 30 hours ago

that is how we act or are expected to act yeyuh, that's how we roll me homie [Link]

Wordorigins.org

Footnotes in the Digital Age

Posted 12 days ago

Last week Tim Parks posted in the New York Review of Books Blog on the need, or rather lack thereof, for formal reference citations in scholarly literature. Parks contends that with the advent of the internet and databases like Project Gutenberg, there is no longer a need for footnotes that give the source of information. Everything is simply a few … [Link]

ASL Poetry

Posted 3 weeks ago

Gretchen McCulloch has a nice post on how to rhyme in sign language over at Slate’s Lexicon Valley blog. Of particular note is this video: More generally, this falls under the category of “how to translate poetry.” Whether the target language is spoken or signed, the same basic issue arises: How do you translate verse while remaining true to the … [Link]

Omniglot blog

Flierefluiter

Posted 4 hours ago

The other day I learnt an interesting word in Dutch – flierefluiter – which a Dutch friend described as being a “butterfly type of person”. That is, someone who rarely sticks to or finishes anything. According to the vanDale dictionary flierefluiter is a nietsnut (layabout or someone fit for nothing). According to Dictionarist a flierefluiter is a ‘loafer, idler, dawdler, … [Link]

Language quiz

Posted 2 days ago

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken? FacebookTwitter Google+Share [Link]

Talk Wordy to Me

My (getting to be) annual St. Patrick’s Day post

Posted 6 months ago

So three years ago, I had an op-ed in the Philly Inquirer on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s about my family, and the movie Hunger. I’m pretty proud of it. (Linking to it on my blog and not the Inky, because it seems to appear and disappear there.) Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and slainte! [Link]

Open for business!

Posted 10 months ago

Aside from the logo, the Talk Wordy to Me redesign is complete. I’ve added a page with information about my editing services and another with links to fiction I have written (not much at the moment but that will change!). I built the blog in my first WordPress self-install (it used to be hosted on WordPress.com) with the Genesis Framework … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Draw a line in the sand

Posted 3 days ago

Why does 'draw a line in the sand' mean issuing an ultimatum? [Link]

New online: Peely-wally

Posted 3 days ago

A Scot may describe somebody as 'peely-wally'. [Link]

the world in words

The grammar of cuisine

Posted 3 days ago

Is this food combination ungrammatical? (Photo: Ryan Basilio/Flickr)Is this food combination ungrammatical? (Photo: Ryan Basilio/Flickr) Here’s a post from Nina Porzucki. You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. And much of what we eat — and how we eat it — is influenced by what linguist Dan Jurafsky calls the “grammar” of food. “The grammar of cuisine is the idea that every culture has a … [Link]

Adam Gidwitz puts the grim back into Grimms’ fairy tales…and adds punk

Posted 3 days ago

Illustration from a 1905 edition of Grimms' Fairy Tales. The dwarfs warn Snow White not to accept anything from strangers. (Illustration: Franz Jüttner, uploaded to Wikimedia Commins by Andreas Praefcke )Illustration from a 1905 edition of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. The dwarfs warn Snow White not to accept anything from strangers. (Illustration: Franz Jüttner, uploaded to Wikimedia Commins by Andreas Praefcke )Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty… they are some of the best-known stories of our time. But how well do we really know these and other fairy tales collected by the Brothers … [Link]

languagehat.com

Looking for ‘Arses.

Posted 14 hours ago

No, not the arses you think; from BBC Radio: Ian McMillan goes on a quest to find one of Britain’s strangest linguistic features. Somewhere between Sheffield and Chesterfield, people stop saying house and say something that sounds a lot more like ‘arse. It’s an isogloss, a kind of linguistic boundary line where accent and dialect changes. Ian calls it the … [Link]

Pausing Over Pronunciation.

Posted 38 hours ago

A nice piece by Anne Curzan on not being sure how to say a word; she begins by describing reading aloud to students from a quote and seeing the word islet coming up: Torn about the status of the “s,” I decided to try to turn this moment of pronunciation panic into a teachable moment. I stopped when I got … [Link]

Language Log

Heart-mind

Posted 19 hours ago

This is another one of those posts that I wanted to write long ago (actually almost a year ago), but it got lost in the shuffle until now, when I found it going through my old drafts. It was prompted by an article that Christine Gross-Loh wrote for The Atlantic (October 8, 2013) titled "Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students … [Link]

UM / UH in German

Posted 25 hours ago

We've previously observed a surprisingly consistent pattern of age and gender effects on the relative frequency of filled pauses (or "hesitation sounds") with and without final nasals — what we usually write as "um" and "uh" in American English, or often as "er" and "erm" in British English. Specifically, younger people use the UM form more than older people, while … [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 http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/la~ 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]

Archive

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