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 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]

Urban Word of the Day

inappropriate selfie

Posted 8 hours ago

When someone or a group of people decide to take a selfie at the absolute wrong moment in time. Like at a funeral or during intercourse. Girl 1: OH MY GOD! Did you see that selfie of the two of them at that funeral!?! Girl 2: I know! I can't believe they took that! It's such an Inappropriate selfie! … [Link]

Sad Masty

Posted 32 hours ago

To masturbate while crying, and using the tears as lubricant im upset my cat died, but am gonna use these tears in my next sad masty to create a happy ending [Link]


Posted 44 hours ago

Today we associate chauvinism with sexism, the belief that men are superior to women, but this is a relatively recent development in the word’s history. The original sense of the word was superpatriotism, the blind, bellicose, and unswerving belief that one’s country is always in the right. [Link]


Posted 5 days ago

Blitz is a clipping of blitzkrieg, the German word meaning lightning war, which referred to the high-speed, offensive tactics used by the German army in the opening months of World War II. In English, blitz originally referred to a sudden, violent military attack, especially one by air, or as a verb to conduct such an attack. And the blitz refers … [Link]

Simplification Isn’t Simple.

Posted 18 hours ago

Victor Mair has a post at the Log about John McWhorter’s Wall Street Journal article “What the World Will Speak in 2115: A century from now, expect fewer but simpler languages on every continent.” After a fair amount of chitchat, the thread gets quite interesting; I agree with the commenters who say that no matter how much global power China … [Link]

15 Unique German Illnesses.

Posted 38 hours ago

An enjoyable list from Arika Okrent; alongside the usual suspects like Ostalgie (nostalgia for the old way of life in East Germany) and Weltschmerz (you probably know what Weltschmerz is), there are such piquant entries as Kevinismus (“a strange propensity to give their kids wholly un-German, American-sounding names like Justin, Mandy, Dennis, Cindy, and Kevin”) and Ichschmerz (“like Weltschmerz, but … [Link]

Language Log

If Scotland win

Posted 19 hours ago

Outside a pub near my office in Edinburgh on the day of an important soccer fixture between Germany and Scotland there was a sign saying: "Free pint if Scotland win!" Those with an eye for syntax will focus like a laser beam on the last letter of the last word. Should that have been "if Scotland wins"? The answer is … [Link]

McWhorter on the global linguascape of 2115

Posted 46 hours ago

John McWhorter has an ambitious article in the Wall Street Journal for 1/2/15: "What the World Will Speak in 2115: A century from now, expect fewer but simpler languages on every continent." The article covers a lot of ground and includes much daring prognostication along the way. I won't attempt to summarize everything in this rich essay, but — so … [Link]

Omniglot blog


Posted 4 hours ago

I came across the Czech word zženštilý yesterday among translations of soft and the pile up of consonants got me wondering whether it was a real word or a typo. I discovered that it is a real word and means: soft, epicene, girly-girly, namby-pamby, nance, effeminate, effeminize, emasculate, pansy, soft, softish, unmanly, womanish, womanlike, sissified [source]. Related words include: – … [Link]

Language quiz

Posted 3 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]

Talk Wordy to Me

Scenes from a Blizzard

Posted 19 hours ago

We had to clear snow mid-blizzard so it wouldn't be too high for the snow blower! snowy6 This is the four-foot wall of snow the street plows have created at the end of our driveway! snowy8 Goofus is super interested in all of this Our street snowy3 snowy4 snowy1 snowy snowy2 Done for the moment We’re in the middle of the Blizzard of 2015 up around Boston! I’d say we had about 20 inches when we got up this morning, and another 4-6 have fallen since then. Did some clearing today, but the storm is expected to last past midnight so we’ll do a lot more tomorrow. [Link]

No title

Posted 5 weeks ago

Xmas10 Xmas9 Xmas3 Xmas11 Xmas1 Xmas5 Xmas6 Xmas4 Xmas8 Xmas7 Xmas2 Xmas12 [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

Updated online: Eellogofusciouhipoppokunurious

Posted 18 days ago

'Eellogofusciouhipoppokunurious~ is definitely curious, US student slang of a bygone era. [Link]

Updated online: Old fogey

Posted 18 days ago

Who or what is an 'old fogey' and why should he have that name? [Link]

the world in words

A bilingual seal of approval for high school graduates

Posted 7 weeks 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 8 weeks 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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