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

Wordorigins.org

A New Type of Turing Test

Posted 4 days ago

In 1950, computer pioneer Alan Turing formulated his famous test for determining whether or not a computer was true artificial intelligence (AI). It involved discourse between humans and a computer, and if the humans could not tell whether they were speaking to a another person or to a machine, then the machine was “intelligent.” A neat idea, but when put … [Link]

10K Twitter Followers

Posted 5 days ago

Wordorigins.org now has over 10,000 followers on Twitter. (We actually broke that barrier some time ago, but I’m in the midst of moving to Texas, so I’ve been slow in conveying the news.) The site’s Twitter handle is @wordorigins. I generally post when I’ve added an article to the site, an entry to the Big List, or when a new … [Link]

languagehat.com

A Maatschappij of Mates.

Posted 11 hours ago

I knew the Dutch word maatschappij ‘society, company’ from a former life as a member of the editorial staff of an accounting firm, and I would have guessed that the maat part was a cognate of English mate, but the details, as presented by this entry from N. van der Sijs’s Klein uitleenwoordenboek [Little loan-word dictionary], are quite interesting (thanks … [Link]

Wooder, Wooder Everywhere: That Philly Accent.

Posted 29 hours ago

“Mo Rocca takes a look at the unique sounds of Philadelphia” in this five-minute video clip for CBS. Bonus: he talks with an actual linguist, Meredith Tamminga; I’m pleased to say that I guessed correctly that, as her website puts it, “Tamminga is a Frisian surname.” (Via the Log.) [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Lord love a duck

Posted 6 days ago

The old London expression 'Lord love a duck' puzzles everyone who has looked into its history. [Link]

New online: Yarely

Posted 4 weeks ago

'Yarely', promptly or quickly, has long vanished from the language. [Link]

Omniglot blog

Les chuchoteuses

Posted 11 hours ago

Lindsay et les chuchoteuses On Rue Staint-Paul in Vieux Montréal there’s a statue of three women having a gossip. It’s known as ‘Les chuchoteuses‘ or ‘The whisperers’. It’s also known as the “fat ladies talking statue”. It’s by Rose-Aimée Bélanger, a sculptor from Ontario, and was installed as part of a 2006 initiative to highlight some of Old Montreal’s forgotten spaces. The word chuchoteuses … [Link]

Stuck in Paris

Posted 45 hours ago

I had a pleasant wander around Montreal yesterday morning, and a nice lunch in Vieux Montréal, then headed to the airport. It wasn’t very busy, so I got through security in no time, and didn’t have too long to wait for the plane. On the flight from Montreal to Paris I was sitting between two Tunisians – a old guy … [Link]

Language Log

Not the America I know

Posted 5 hours ago

"Trump Jr. Says Obama Lifted Phrase From His RNC Speech", NBC News 7/28/2016: Donald Trump Jr. suggested Thursday that Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia Wednesday night lifted a line from his Republican National Convention remarks, pointing out that both addresses contained the line "That's not the America I know." I'm honored that POTUS would plagiarize a line from my speech … [Link]

Malarkey

Posted 5 hours ago

Ben Mathis-Lilley, "Joe Biden Brings House Down at DNC With Raging Fireball of a Speech Highlighted by Use of Word 'Malarkey'", Slate 7/27/2016. Here's the passage: Your browser does not support the audio element. According to Merriam-Webster's Trend Watch, Malarkey rose to the top of our look-ups on the evening of July 27th, 2016, after Vice-President Joseph Biden used the … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day

flat earther

Posted 19 hours ago

a person who does not accept or is out of touch with the realities/ beliefs of modern times;one who blatantly dismisses/ disagrees with common knowledge or scientific findings. Joe doesn't even believe the planet is round, or that we landed on the moon… he's a flat earther. [Link]

basic white girl

Posted 43 hours ago

A female who conforms to her surroundings and claims she is unique. She often drinks Starbucks, wears Ugg boots in August, and posts selfies on social networking sites every. single. day. Also uses hashtags that don't have anything to do with the picture itself. Girl 1: Hey, let's go to Starbucks and wear leggings with Uggs! Girl 2: OMG YES. … [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 http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/la~ 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 10 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 17 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 20 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 20 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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