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

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]

languagehat.com

Don’t Try So Hard.

Posted 13 hours ago

Anne Trafton of the MIT News Office had a report last July on an interesting study: In a new study, a team of neuroscientists and psychologists led by Amy Finn, a postdoc at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, has found evidence for another factor that contributes to adults’ language difficulties: When learning certain elements of language, adults’ more highly … [Link]

Chronologicon Hibernicum.

Posted 39 hours ago

Colm Moriarty’s Irish Archaeology blog has a post on a wonderful project: Funding of €1.8 million by has been secured from the European Research Council for a project that will date a large number of 7th–10th century Irish texts. Professor Stifter, Head of Maynooth University Department of Early Irish, will lead a team of five researchers on the project known … [Link]

Language Log

We're back

Posted 13 hours ago

Yesterday afternoon, a popular link from the Washington Post (Ana Swanson, "The equivalent of “It’s all Greek to me” in 30 other languages", Wonkblog 3/25/2015) caused a spike in LLOG page views; this happened to cause a disk drive to fill up, because the back-end database server was keeping binary logs of all transactions; this caused and/or uncovered various other … [Link]

"Language cancer"

Posted 2 days ago

David Bandurski has posted a fine article about "The 'cancer' of all things Western" on the website of cmp (China Media Project), at the Journalism and Media Studies Centre of The University of Hong Kong. (3/24/15) Bandurski draws the inspiration for the title of his article from a February piece in the Beijing Daily, in which the Taiwanese poet and … [Link]

Talk Wordy to Me

Asking for a bit more help for Goofus

Posted 18 days 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]

Vegetarian chili with no onions or garlic

Posted 8 weeks ago

My pal Beth Wodzinski asked for a vegetarian chili recipe with no onions or garlic (due to an allium sensitvity), afterI posted my award-winning chili recipe. So here is one! Vegetarian chili I just made up right now but is probably great Serves 4-6 1 red bell pepper 1 green bell pepper 1 tbsp red New Mexican chile powder* 1 … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Smithereens

Posted 20 days ago

What's the source of the expressive term 'smithereens'. [Link]

New online: Volleyballene

Posted 20 days ago

'Volleyballene' is a substance that has recently been designed but not yet made. [Link]

Urban Word of the Day

or naw

Posted 6 hours ago

a slang phrase usually said after asking a question. a:"Do you want ice cream or naw?" (nah can also be used) [Link]

braux pas

Posted 30 hours ago

The rare awkward moment between two male acquaintances or friends when the parting gesture (handshake, fist bump, or bro hug) gets fumbled. This occurs most often either when one goes in for a bro hug and the other wants to shake hands, or when one goes for the traditional handshake and the other goes for some version of the urban … [Link]

Wordorigins.org

SCOTUS and the Adverbial “Way”

Posted 23 hours ago

Lowering the Bar is one of my favorite blogs. But since it deals primarily with legal humor, I don’t mention it much. Yesterday, however, Kevin Underhill, the blogger and lawyer, posted a review of the history of the adverbial way in legal opinions. In a recent opinion, Justice Kagan wrote: Moreover, Omnicare way overstates both the looseness of the inquiry … [Link]

National Grammar Day

Posted 3 weeks ago

I don’t celebrate National Grammar Day. I think the idea is silly and anathema to true language lovers, and I don’t think I’ve ever even mentioned it on this website before. But Dennis Baron at the University of Illinois has a blog post that I think perfectly captures the true meaning of National Grammar Day. [Discuss this post] [Link]

Omniglot blog

Nebuď směšný!

Posted 44 hours ago

I came across a lovely Czech word today – směšný [‘smɲeʃni:] – which means funny or ridiculous, and sounds quite funny to me. I think it comes from smích (laughter), from the Proto-Slavic *směxъ [source] Related words include: – směšnost = ridiculousness; absurdity – směšně = ridiculously – smich = laughter – smát = to laugh – posměšek = a … [Link]

Sun dribbles

Posted 3 days ago

While walking along by estuary of the River Dwyryd at Portmeirion yesterday, the Czech friend I was with asked me the name of the patterns in the sand and mud made by water. I wasn’t sure and suggested ripples or sand ripples. She misheard the latter and thought I said sun dribbles, which I really like the sound of. I … [Link]

the world in words

A bilingual seal of approval for high school graduates

Posted 3 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 4 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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