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

Talk Wordy to Me

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

Posted 5 weeks 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 4 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 with the Genesis Framework … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Stitched up like a kipper

Posted 5 days ago

'Stitched up like a kipper' is a weird conflation of two older English slang phrases. [Link]

New online: Hodmandod

Posted 5 days ago

'Hodmandod' is a southern English dialect word for a snail. [Link]

How the Books Survived.

Posted 28 hours ago

I’ve long been interested in Mali, and I’ve posted several times about the incredible manuscript collections of Timbuktu (2003, 2006, 2007). Needless to say, I was upset at reports that Islamist rebels were destroying them, and relieved when news started emerging that many or most of them had been saved; you can now read a riveting account by Patrick Symmes … [Link]

Literary or Spoken?

Posted 46 hours ago

A Haaretz story by Yarden Skop raises one of those eternal questions, in this case with reference to the teaching of Arabic in Israel: For years the education system has been debating over what to emphasize in the study of Arabic − whether literary Arabic, which would give students the skills to read, write and translate, or spoken Arabic, which … [Link]

Language Log

It begs the way we see the world

Posted 27 hours ago

Brad Plumer, "Two Degrees: How the World Failed on Climate Change", Vox 4/22/2014: "If you’re serious about 2°C, the rates of change are so significant that it begs the way we see the world. That’s what people aren’t prepared to embrace," says Kevin Anderson, a climate scientist at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research. "Essentially you’d have to start asking … [Link]

The city of Mr. Andreessen, South Korea

Posted 34 hours ago

By now, the sinking of the South Korean MV Sewol on April 16, 2014, with 476 persons on board, is known to the whole world. Especially tragic is the fact that most of the passengers were high school students on an outing and that the ship's captain had behaved in an extremely irresponsible manner, resulting in the deaths of many … [Link]

Omniglot blog

Gender differences in language learning?

Posted 32 hours ago

An article I read in The Times today suggests that women tend to be less confident than men, particularly in work-related situations. Apparently men tend to over estimate their abilities, while women often under estimate their abilities, and women tend to over-prepare and don’t feel ready for a task unless they are 100% sure of it, while men who are … [Link]

Language quiz

Posted 4 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]

Urban Word of the Day

Work Boyfriend

Posted 15 hours ago

Favourite male co-worker who you get along with really well and enjoy spending time with but in a plutonic way. He's your boyfriend between 9 and 5 without the sex. Lady: My work boyfriend said the funniest thing at lunch today.Lady's actual boyfriend: BORING! Let's have sex.Lady: K [Link]


Posted 39 hours ago

What Happens when you get really mad at someone for doing something outrageously stupid. Person 1 凸^-^凸 Person 2 Why did you do that? Person 1 BECAUSE I TOLD YOU TO STOP DOING THAT! [Link]

Digitizing Manuscripts

Posted 9 days ago

A short video from the Bodleian Library that provides an overview of what digitizing library materials entails. [Discuss this post] [Link]

Who We Are

Posted 10 days ago

Dave Wilton Dave Wilton is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Toronto, working on a dissertation that examines how metaphors in Old English literature can explicate Anglo-Saxon ideas and conceptions of the mind, agency, and free will. Dave has an M.A. from George Washington University in National Security Policy Studies and a B.A. from … [Link]

the world in words

The language of pregnancy seems pregnant with meaning. Is it?

Posted 8 days ago

Pregnant clockwise in Chinese, Georgian, Portuguese, Thai, Afrikaans, Albanian, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian. (Credit: Fran Dias)Pregnant clockwise in Chinese, Georgian, Portuguese, Thai, Afrikaans, Albanian, Hebrew, Spanish, Russian. (Credit: Fran Dias)When a woman in Russia is carrying a child in her womb, several words could be used to describe her condition. The most common is beremenaya (Беременная). Figuratively, it means pregnant. But the literal meaning is quite different. “It has this kind of almost quasi-religious meaning of … [Link]

How to amass a collection of world leaders’ autographs, from Mandela to Castro

Posted 12 days ago

Some of the top names from the autograph collection of Randy Kaplan. He launched his collection in 1996, with the autograph of Bill Clinton, and has gathered 130 autographed baseballs to date. (Photo: Alina Simone)Some of the top names from the autograph collection of Randy Kaplan. He launched his collection in 1996, with the autograph of Bill Clinton, and has gathered 130 autographed baseballs to date. (Photo: Alina Simone) Here’s a guest post from writer Alina Simone. I’m always on the look out for attention-grabbing stats, so when I heard the most valuable autograph of … [Link]

You Don't Say

Moving on

Posted 2 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 2 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]


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