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

Transitive Property

Posted 15 hours ago

1. If A=B, and B=C, then A=C. Used in Geometry. 2. If Person A hooks up with Person B, and Person B hooks up with person C, person A has hooked up with person C. This property is hated by most high school/college age persons. 3. Definition 2, as a verb. To hook up with someone by the transitive property. … [Link]

Man Stand

Posted 43 hours ago

The act of a man standing outside a shop while his wife/girlfriend/partner shops inside. Man Standing involves looking into space, at other women, or in the case of multi story shopping centers, leaning on the railings of an upper floor watching the people below. Ive been doing the Man Stand outside New Look for an hour! [Link]

Wordorigins.org

cyclone

Posted 4 months 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 4 months 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]

languagehat.com

The Secret Sign Language of the Ottoman Court.

Posted 5 hours ago

Amelia Soth describes an interesting phenomenon of Ottoman court life: In the 1600s, the court of the Ottoman Empire employed some 40 deaf servants. They were chosen not in spite of their deafness, but because of it. The deaf servants were favored companions of the sultan, and their facility in nonverbal communication made them indispensable to the court, where decorum … [Link]

Foreign Elements in Proto-Indo-European.

Posted 37 hours ago

Rasmus Bjørn has created the webpage Prehistoric loan relations: Foreign elements in the Proto-Indo-European vocabulary; the introductory text is self-explanatory: This page allows historical linguists to compare and scrutinize proposed prehistoric lexical borrowings from the perspective of Proto-Indo-European. The first entries are all (135 in total) extracted from my master’s thesis “Foreign elements in the Proto-Indo-European vocabulary” (Bjørn 2017). Comments … [Link]

Omniglot blog

Language quiz

Posted 21 hours ago

Here’s a recording in a mystery language. Can you identify the language, and do you know where it’s spoken? [Link]

The Foreshortening Dark

Posted 3 days ago

In many languages this month is known as December, or something similar, which comes ultimately from the Latin *decumo-mēnsris (of the tenth month) – the Roman calendar started in March (mārtius) [source]. However in some languages December has a completely different name: In Welsh December is Rhagfyr [ˈr̥aɡvɨ̞r], which means the ‘foreshortening’, from rhagfyrhau (to foreshorten), from rhag (a prefix … [Link]

Language Log

Ask Language Log: "Strange Writing"

Posted 11 hours ago

TJJ from Napa CA writes: Dr. Dan Jurafsky at Stanford suggested I contact you. I have a statue I purchased years ago from a Humane Society fundraiser sale. It is made of some sort of stone and has a rabbit on one side and some strange writing on the bottom. It looks like it might be Bengali or Gujarati. I'm … [Link]

Pitch in Korean dialects

Posted 14 hours ago

From Krista Ryu: Recently on the internet, there was an interesting photo posted that pointed out the unique feature of Southeastern dialect of Korean: tones (some scholars call it pitch, as it is different from the tones of languages such as Mandarin). The internet post had the following photo and a question: "is it true that Seoulites (people from Seoul … [Link]

World Wide Words: Updates

New online: Not my pigeon

Posted 12 months ago

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

New online: Subnivean

Posted 12 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]

Archive

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