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

Asking for a bit more help for Goofus

Posted 8 weeks 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 3 months 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]

Omniglot blog

Polyglot Gathering Berlin 2015

Posted 25 hours ago

I got back from the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin about an hour ago. I took the train all the way from Berlin to Bangor, via Cologne, Brussels, London, Crewe and Chester, leaving Berlin just before 7am this morning, and arriving in Bangor just after 9pm this evening. On the way there I also travelled by train, though I had to … [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? [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Ilk

Posted 12 days ago

The phrase 'of that ilk' still bothers some language purists. [Link]

New online: Fowler's Modern English Usage, Fourth Edition

Posted 12 days ago

Review of the new edition of 'Fowler's Modern English Usage'. [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 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

Google University

Posted 16 hours ago

A social media phenomenon where a commenter attempts to demonstrate knowledge obtained by searching on Google. This person has no legitimate degree from an accredited institution in said subject/topic, but will use unverified & inaccurate sources from websites searched on the search engine to prove their point on the topic being discussed. After reading a ridiculous comment from someone that … [Link]

Service the Account

Posted 40 hours ago

A euphemism for masturbating, especially at work. Hey Chris, it's a slow day here at work. I need to find something to concentrate my efforts on. Maybe it's a good day to service the account! [Link]

A Tawdry Comic

Posted 5 days ago

Dinosaur Comics is one of my favorites, often riffing on linguistic issues. Today we get a double bonus: etymology and Anglo-Saxon history. Here is the Big List entry on tawdry. [Discuss this post] [Link]


Posted 8 days ago

See dog. [Link]

Som ni see.

Posted 5 hours ago

John Cowan writes: The good folks at Project Wombat have gotten a request for transcription and translation of Swedish text on the backs of some photographs, online here. So far, they’ve gotten this feedback: My best guesses: Olga Ernie har varit ute och fiskat ‘Olga [and] Ernie have been out fishing’ The start of the word looks weird, but I … [Link]


Posted 32 hours ago

A John Cowan comment reminded me I wanted to post about the word obnoxious, which must surely be one of the most difficult words to deal with in reading old documents, since its meaning has changed so confusingly. I discovered this while reading Peter Brown’s Through the Eye of a Needle ; in the course of describing how Pope Gelasius helped … [Link]

Language Log

"There's not a player who doesn't deserve it less"

Posted 41 hours ago

Cited by Nick Miller, "Stuart Bingham shocks Shaun Murphy in World Snooker Championship final", The Guardian 5/5/2015: "There's not a player who doesn't deserve it less." I'm too tired to work that out but think I agree with Murphy on Bingham — Paul Campbell (@campbellwpaul) May 4, 2015 Misnegation or (un-)compliment? [h/t Paweł Nowak] Update: Ian Preston provides a link … [Link]


Posted 44 hours ago

The 4/30/2015 Pie Comic: [h/t George Kesteven] The end of Borges' essay "El Idioma Analítico de John Wilkins": Esperanzas y utopías aparte, acaso lo más lúcido que sobre el lenguaje se ha escrito son estas palabras de Chesterton: "El hombre sabe que hay en el alma tintes más desconcertantes, más innumerables y más anónimos que los colores de una selva … [Link]

the world in words

A bilingual seal of approval for high school graduates

Posted 5 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 5 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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