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

the world in words

How dialects from Trinidad to Hawaii are expanding the limits of English

Posted 2 days ago

Here’s a post from Nina Porzucki. There are probably as many terms for different kinds of English vernacular as there are vernaculars themselves: pidgin, patois, slang, creole dialect and so on. But while we usually think of the vernaculars as oral versions of the English language, they’re making their way into the written word as well. “There’s a really interesting … [Link]

Is there such thing as an untranslatable word?

Posted 4 days ago

Photo illustration by Augie Schwer/FlickrPhoto illustration by Augie Schwer/Flickr Here’s a post from Nina Porzucki. Quick — what does the French word “chouette” mean? If you flipped open the dictionary and took a look, you’d say it means a type of owl, and it literally does. But the French use it much more frequently to describe something that is cute, neat, nice or friendly — … [Link]

Talk Wordy to Me

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

Posted 7 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 11 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: Fish-faced

Posted 8 days ago

A schoolyard taunt, 'fish-faced' has a surprisingly long history. [Link]

New online: Zoilism

Posted 8 days ago

Now defunct, 'Zoilism' once meant a carping and envious critic. [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]

languagehat.com

Happy 100th, John Berryman!

Posted 8 hours ago

Sam Leith at the Guardian (this seems to be Guardian day at LH) has a wonderful appreciation of John Berryman, one of my favorite American poets, who would have turned 100 yesterday; as I told my brother, who sent me the link (thanks, Eric!), I have two copies of The Dream Songs (one of which is a gift from PF … [Link]

Writings from the Edge of Language.

Posted 16 hours ago

From the Guardian, Philip Gross’s top 10 writings from the edge of language (2010) is a mixture of things I already know and love (“The Waste Land”), things I know about and have been meaning to investigate (Riddley Walker), and things I’d never heard of but suddenly want to read: 5. Keeping Mum / Llofrudd Iaith by Gwyneth Lewis These … [Link]

Language Log

Aquatory

Posted 20 hours ago

From Nicholas Hill: He writes that this photograph … was taken at a marina in the harbour of Kardla on the island of Hiiumaa, Estonia. I've no idea where they got aquatory from. There might be a clue in this discussion in the WordReference Forums: My father said something in Bulgarian and wanted it translated into English. What he said … [Link]

"Cantonese" song

Posted 30 hours ago

This hauntingly beautiful song is the unofficial anthem of the Hong Kong democracy protest movement: The title of the song is "Boundless Oceans Vast Skies" (hoi2 fut3 tin1 hung1 海闊天空) (" as boundless as the sea and sky; unrestrained and far-ranging"). It is performed by the Hong Kong rock band Beyond. This video brings tears to my eyes and sends … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day

bia

Posted 23 hours ago

Term of endearment usually to a good friend; slang of bitch. Also can be substituted for biatch. What's up, bia? [Link]

Full-Donald

Posted 47 hours ago

To wear an outfit completely devoid of lower bottom coverings, in the style of Donald Duck. Dominic turned up to the party Full-Donald, and was subsequently arrested for indecent exposure. [Link]

Omniglot blog

Agley

Posted 5 days ago

I came across the interesting word agley today when looking up something else in a Chinese dictionary – the Chinese equivalent is 错 [錯] (cuò). It is a Scots word, pronounced [əˈgli/əˈgləi], that means “off the straight, awry, oblique, wrong”. It comes from the word gley (to squint), according to Wiktionary, which is possible related to the Icelandic word gljá … [Link]

Languages in Bhutan

Posted 6 days ago

I listened to a very interesting programme on the BBC about languages in Bhutan today. It mentioned that although the 19 or so indigenous languages of Bhutan have equal status, in theory at least. In practise, particularly in education, the main languages used are Dzongkha / Bhutanese and English, and to a lesser extent, Nepali. Kids are discouraged from, or … [Link]

Wordorigins.org

Women in The Guardian

Posted 9 days ago

Maddie York, an editor at The Guardian, has penned an article for that paper’s “Mind Your Language Blog” in which she objects to the use of woman as an adjective, as in woman doctor or woman writer. The subheading for the blog post—which York may not have written, as headlines are often not written by the reporter—reads: ‘Woman’ is not … [Link]

ergonomics

Posted 12 days ago

I was listening to a podcast in which the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson stated that he was under the impression that the discipline of ergonomics arose when the baby boomers started growing old and began feeling aches and pains. Of course, I had to immediately research the origin of the term, and it turns out Tyson’s impression is incorrect. (To … [Link]

Archive

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