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

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Not my pigeon

Posted 7 months ago

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

New online: Subnivean

Posted 7 months ago

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

Urban Word of the Day

Bona Dude

Posted 24 hours ago

A modern legal term, _Bona Dude_ means "in good dude" in a cross of Legal Latin and Modern English. The term stresses the entirely "good dude" nature of the person to whom it refers. A "bona dude" is sincere and earnest about being a good dude.First used by @SCOTUSblog on Twitter, 2017 June 26. The Supreme Court of the United … [Link]


Posted 48 hours ago

Member of the alt-right who proudly shouts their free-speech warrior credentials but lose their minds when a fellow member is critcized. I see a mass of Dave Rubin's broflakes have had Contrapoint's video kicked off YouTube. [Link]


Posted 18 days ago

The armadillo is an American mammal of the order Cingulata. There are a number of species of armadillo, of which the nine-banded armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) is perhaps the most familiar to English speakers. That species is found in South and Central America and in the southeastern United States, as far west as Texas and as far north as Nebraska, and … [Link]


Posted 19 days ago

In his prepared statement to Congress of 8 June 2017 (released 7 June), former FBI Director James Comey wrote about a 30 March phone call he had with President Trump: The President went on to say that if there were some “satellite” associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out. Now that’s an … [Link]

Crepax’s Reversed Lautverschiebung .

Posted 5 hours ago

A fun post from goofy at bradshaw of the future: Guido Crepax’s Valentina comics feature a subterranean race with a language that was heavily influenced by Germanic languages – he calls it “Lautverschiebung in reverse” as I noted in my previous post. These stories have recently been published by Fantagraphics in beautiful English editions and I am reading them for … [Link]

‘Dreamtime’ and ‘The Dreaming’.

Posted 30 hours ago

Like many people, I’ve long been fascinated by the concept of “dreamtime” (which I was probably introduced to by the notoriously unreliable Bruce Chatwin); I’ve also been uneasy about depending on vague thirdhand understanding of what I was aware must be an incredibly complicated cultural complex of ideas. If you’re like me, you will welcome as I did the chance … [Link]

Language Log

Discourse analysis

Posted 20 hours ago

Today's Frazz: [Link]


Posted 20 hours ago

Today's PhD Comics: [Link]

Omniglot blog

Gaelic hills

Posted 43 hours ago

A photo of Scottish mountains I took in March 2016 I’m currently reading an interesting book – Uncommon Ground – A word-lover’s guide to the British landscape by Dominick Tyler. One thing I’ve learnt from it, is that there are quite a few words in Scottish Gaelic related to hills and mountains: Beinn [beiɲ / beɲə] = mountain, mount; high hill, pinnacle; head, top, high place. It comes from the … [Link]

Language quiz

Posted 3 days ago

Language quiz image Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken? [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 21 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 2 years 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 3 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 3 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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