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

Urban Word of the Day

DeVostated

Posted 31 hours ago

The feeling one has when they go to report a sexual assault to learn section seven has been annulled under Betsy DeVos and the Trump Reich. girl: I went to the counselor to talk about what happened this weekend, with those men.Friend: what happened?Girl: nothing, they told me there was nothing I could do, because the proper procedures have been … [Link]

Typeractivity

Posted 2 days ago

Over use of personal devices especially in regard to texting. His typeractivity was distracting to those around him. [Link]

Wordorigins.org

cyclone

Posted 8 weeks ago

Cyclone, a noun meaning a wind storm that revolves around a center of low pressure, has a somewhat interesting etymology in that it is a modern coinage using ancient roots. It is also one of those rare words that we can pinpoint its precise origin, a situation somewhat more common with scientific and technical terms. Cyclone was coined in 1848 … [Link]

hurricane

Posted 8 weeks ago

As of this writing, hurricane Harvey has devastated much of the Texas Gulf Coast. (Here in College Station, Texas, we’ve avoided the worst of it, although it would be an understatement to say there has been a lot of rain.) But where does the word hurricane come from? It turns out it’s a rather straightforward borrowing. [Link]

Omniglot blog

Language quiz

Posted 27 hours 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]

The Art of Lists

Posted 3 days ago

List image Lists might be considered art, and there was an exhibition of lists made by famous artists some years ago. In Iceland art is a list – the Icelandic word of art is list. In Old Icelandic it also meant “craft, skill, adroitness, dexterity” [source]. Related words include: lista- = artistic listamaður = artist listaverk = work of art listflutningur = … [Link]

languagehat.com

Prince Serebryany.

Posted 17 hours ago

I’ve finished Aleksey K. Tolstoy’s historical novel Князь Серебряный [Prince Serebryany] (see this comment), and, well, it’s a great Boy’s Own adventure story if that’s the sort of thing you like. Except that it’s Russian, so if the protagonists are lucky they die in battle and if they’re not they get tortured to death in Red Square. Brief summary: Prince … [Link]

Dolerite and Diabase.

Posted 39 hours ago

I just ran across the word dolerite in the excellent science fiction novel Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (thanks, Songdog!), and of course I looked it up and found that it was sort of synonymous with diabase, both meaning ‘a dark, fine-grained igneous rock’ (you can see the gory details at the Wikipedia article: “Diabase is the preferred name in … [Link]

Language Log

Voice recognition for inputting

Posted 15 hours ago

When I'm with my sister Heidi, whether it be in Seattle or northeast Ohio or anywhere else in the world, she's often talking to Siri. She asks Siri to look up information about trees, about food, about traditional medicines, about Yoga, about genealogy, and anything else she wants to investigate. Above all, when we're driving around, she asks Siri for … [Link]

Sino-English grammatical hyper-redundancy

Posted 3 days ago

Adrian S. Thieret found this sign inside his brand new apartment complex in Shanghai a few days ago: It reads: xǐyī fáng zhèngzài zhuāngshì zhōng -ing…… 洗衣房正在装饰中ing…… ("the laundry room is being decorated") jìngqǐng qídài 敬请期待 ("coming soon", lit., "respectfully please wait expectantly") The excess of markers of the present progressive / continuous aspect in the first line is almost … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Not my pigeon

Posted 11 months ago

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

New online: Subnivean

Posted 11 months ago

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

Talk Wordy to Me

That time I got accused of making a bomb in school but did not get fucking arrested

Posted 2 years 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 3 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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