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

fuckface von clownstick

Posted 19 hours ago

Donald Trump's birth-name. "Hey dude, did you hear Donald Trump's birthname?" "No, what is it?" "Fuckface von Clownstick." [Link]


Posted 43 hours ago

Alt-Reich: An Intentional play on the word "Altreich". which is an actual German word meaning Old Empire and can refer to Germany's pre-WWI territories or even it's territories as the Holy Roman Empire, i.e. the countries Hitler tried to take back. The Alt-Right's current message and tone very much resembles Hitler's infamous 3rd Reich, and thus in slang terms could … [Link]

Omniglot blog

Getting Past the Intermediate Plateau

Posted 38 hours ago

Today we have a guest post by Olly Richards of Behind The Scenes at the Fluent Spanish Academy An illustration of the stages of learning If you’re starting to learn a new language, the internet is awash with advice and resources geared towards beginners. But as you make progress with your new language, and hit the dreaded intermediate plateau, it becomes more difficult to know exactly … [Link]

Going through the motions

Posted 3 days ago

Russian verbs of motion In English you can use the verb to go to indicate any kind of travel – it doesn’t matter if you’re going on foot, by bicycle, car, bus, train, boat or plane. There are other verbs you can use: walk, stroll, hike, cycle, drive, travel, sail, fly, etc, but you can also just use go. In some other languages the … [Link]

A Dialect Coach Critiques Actors’ Accents

Posted 4 weeks ago

The topic of actors’ accents has arisen from time to time on our discussion boards. In this sixteen-minute film from Wired magazine dialect coach Erik Singer examines some accents from big Hollywood productions. Yes, Kevin Costner’s English accent in Robin Hood is really that bad, but I was surprised at some of the accents Singer considered good, such as Renée … [Link]

The Last Punchcutter

Posted 5 weeks ago

A delightful, short film about a dying art… And a short article on the film. [Discuss this post] [Link]


Posted 96 minutes ago

“Rhododendron threat raised in Dáil” is a brief but piquant news story well summed up in the first sentence: “Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae has claimed that the spread of rhododendron in Killarney National Park is so bad that the army may have to be called in to sort it out.” I bring it here solely for the accompanying video clip, … [Link]


Posted 30 hours ago

I’m on the home stretch of Rieber’s The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands (see this post), and in the course of reading up on the Great Eastern Crisis of 1875 and its consequences (which ultimately included the First World War and the entire last century’s worth of awfulness) I’ve run across items that satisfy my addiction to both long-forgotten, short-lived … [Link]

Language Log

Impact Effect

Posted 13 hours ago

I recently saw a list of revisions suggested by the editor of a scientific journal, which combined technical issues with a number of points of English usage, including these two: Please try to avoid the word ‘impact,’ unless it is part of a proper name. It is now over-used (its ‘impact’ is diminished), and doesn’t communicate anything specific. If used … [Link]

New Yorker copy editors (probably) moving adverbs around

Posted 33 hours ago

In an article called "The increasingly lonely hope of Barack Obama," the The New Yorker showed that it belongs to the increasingly lonely class of educated people who still imagine that if they ever allowed an adjunct to separate infinitival to from the plain-form verb of the infinitival complement that it introduces, demons would break through the walls and floor … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Not my pigeon

Posted 12 weeks ago

The unfashionable idiom 'not my pigeon' puzzles a reader. [Link]

New online: Subnivean

Posted 12 weeks ago

The unusual word 'subnivean' is all about snow. [Link]

You Don't Say

Moving on

Posted 5 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 5 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 17 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 24 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 2 years 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 2 years 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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