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

the world in words » Chinese Orphans to Get Names That Don’t Set Them Apart

Tuesday 21 February 23:06:28 UTC 2012

The number of orphans in China stands at about 100-thousand. That’s the official number. Some child advocacy groups believe it’s much higher than that. Life can be extremely trying for orphans in China. There is, of course, the trauma of absence and rejection: not knowing who your parents are or why they abandoned you. There is the difficulty of getting … [Link]

the world in words » The Perfect Love Song

Tuesday 21 February 20:33:47 UTC 2012

Here’s a candidate for the perfect love song: Bravo Charlie by the Danish group Kliché. Released in 1982, Bravo Charlie is heartfelt nonsense, profoundly meaningful and totally meaningless. The first couple of times I heard it, without paying much attention to the lyrics, I thought it was an ode to a woman called Julia. Then the penny—or the øre, this being … [Link]

the world in words » The Voice of Iran in Spanish

Tuesday 21 February 20:33:46 UTC 2012

In early 2011, the BBC announced massive cuts in its foreign language services. We devoted an entire pod episode to that decision and its implications. At the time, London-based journalism professor George Brock warned of an imminent deluge of government-run foreign language broadcast channels. That’s certainly playing out. The Chinese and Russian government-run TV companies have fast-growing foreign language services. China’s … [Link]

the world in words » Inventing a Word for a Facebook Relationship

Tuesday 21 February 20:33:45 UTC 2012

Whichever language any of us speak, we have rarely shied away from coming up with new words. Now of course, unnamed new things surround us every day—especially new things on the internet. We forget that only in the recent past, we have had to come up with words like email, podcast, blog, crowdsourcing, tweet, the cloud and countless more. Most … [Link]

the world in words » Fear of Foreign Languages, Hospital English, and Garifuna Music

Tuesday 21 February 20:33:44 UTC 2012

Some US Presidential candidates seem embarrassed by their ability to speak a foreign language. Both Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich speak at least some French. Romney picked his up while on Mormon mission in France. Gingrich acquired his as a teenager while his father his US serviceman father was stationed there. Yet Gingrich made fun of Romney in a TV … [Link]

the world in words » Chinese Orphans to Get Names That Don’t Set Them Apart

Tuesday 21 February 19:32:45 UTC 2012

The number of orphans in China stands at about 100-thousand. That’s the official number. Some child advocacy groups believe it’s much higher than that. Life can be extremely trying for orphans in China. There is, of course, the trauma of absence and rejection: not knowing who your parents are or why they abandoned you. There is the difficulty of getting … [Link]

Wordorigins.org » 1953 Words

Tuesday 21 February 13:13:00 UTC 2012

The Oxford English Dictionary has 413 words with first citations from 1953. In that year, there were many countdowns for missile launches, but those missiles usually crashed and burned; two banes of prescriptivism, to access and frenemy, were coined; crostini, tapas, and shawarma appeared on menus; both Medicare, a name for a government program that didn’t exist yet, and SMERSH, … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day » powerstreaming

Tuesday 21 February 10:57:43 UTC 2012

Watching several episodes of a TV show in a row, usually from an online streaming service. This can be done over several evenings, or a marathon weekend. I missed the first three seasons of Mad Men, so I spent the past two weekends powerstreaming all the episodes in order to be up to date for the premiere of season four … [Link]

Language Log » Whorfian Economics

Tuesday 21 February 10:01:14 UTC 2012

[This is a guest post by Keith Chen.] Mark and Geoffrey were kind enough not only to write thoughtful columns on a recent working paper of mine here and here, but to invite me to write a guest post explaining the work. In the spirit of a non-linguist who’s pleased to be discovering this blog, I wanted to use Mark … [Link]

Language Log » More radical mis-speaking

Tuesday 21 February 9:11:50 UTC 2012

At about 6:38 a.m. today Jak Beula, chairman of a community trust, was talking on BBC Radio 4's "Today" program about Smethwick, a town in the Midlands of England, where there were famous incidents of racism in the 1960s, leading to an important visit by Malcolm X nine days before his assassination in New York. Beula wanted to explain about … [Link]

Language Log » Radical mis-speaking

Tuesday 21 February 2:45:22 UTC 2012

"Santorum Spokesperson Refers To Obama's 'Radical Islamic Policies'", TPM 2/20/2012: Rick Santorum spokesperson Alice Stewart slipped up on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports Monday afternoon when talking about President Obama's environmental policies. Instead, she called them Obama's "radical Islamic policies." Santorum communications director Hogan Gidley told TPM that Stewart "misspoke." Andrea Mitchell said that Stewart called her to say she slipped … [Link]

languagehat.com » PLAGIARY.

Tuesday 21 February 0:24:46 UTC 2012

I was reading Lizzie Widdicombe's sad and funny New Yorker piece about the hapless plagiarist Quentin Rowan, a/k/a Q. R. Markham, "author" of the spy novel Assassin of Secrets, which immediately upon publication was revealed to be a Frankenstein's monster of chunks of other novels (and nonfiction works), busily stitched together by someone who badly wanted to be a writer … [Link]

Archive

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