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

languagehat.com » JAZZ CURVE.

Monday 26 March 21:54:42 UTC 2012

A Boston Globe article by Ben Zimmer traces the word "jazz" back to a Los Angeles Times story from 1912. It starts:One hundred years ago, a hard-throwing but erratic minor league pitcher named Ben Henderson was getting ready for his opening day start for the Portland Beavers against the Los Angeles Angels. Henderson had pitched well for the Beavers the … [Link]

the world in words » Mistaking Welsh For Hebrew in Libya

Monday 26 March 19:23:45 UTC 2012

Outside of Wales, Welsh is a profoundly obscure language, to the point that some may think it extinct or invented. In Libya, Welsh is no more real than Elvish. That linguistic obscurity led to two British journalists being detained in post-Gaddafi Libya on suspicion of spying. Below are two versions of what took place. The first is as reported by … [Link]

Language Log » Ask Language Log: So feminine?

Monday 26 March 14:33:16 UTC 2012

Brett Reynolds writes: Over on English Language & Usage, the following question appeared: Many Japanese textbooks of English mention the "feminine 'so'": the use of "so" for "very" is more typical of a feminine speaker. I don't think this is true in the US (I learned English living in Southern California and have now lived in the US for 10 … [Link]

Omniglot blog » Mysterious script

Monday 26 March 13:17:17 UTC 2012

Can anyone recognise the script below? It was sent in by a visitor and comes from an old letter. It looks like it’s written from right to left and might be a cursive form Hebrew. See the whole letter in PDF format. [Link]

Wordorigins.org » 1962 Words

Monday 26 March 12:29:00 UTC 2012

The Oxford English Dictionary has 420 words with first citations from 1962. In that year, miniskirts and Nehru jackets were all the rage; in Hong Kong, soldiers on R&R from the Nam might consort with Suzie Wong; engineers at the Skunk Works might slap together a kludge and hope they didn’t find a glitch; peaceniks protested for nonproliferation; and some … [Link]

Language Log » If they give me more is OK

Monday 26 March 11:02:32 UTC 2012

On a billboard advertising an investment firm is a photo of a young-middle-aged guy described by Caroline Sams (on Twitter, 6 Nov 2012) as a "smug George Clooney look-alike" she'd like to punch. The slogan below his handsome twinkly-eyed unpunched face says: I ask my team for 100%. If they give me more is OK too. Another Twitter user asked … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day » Brotox

Monday 26 March 7:30:00 UTC 2012

Noun, botox when used on a straight male, usually something he doesn't want you to know about.Some men use to prevent or erase wrinkles, while others use it to improve their impassive poker face. "Aaron got brotox and now he can't move his eyebrows" [Link]

languagehat.com » EVERETT V. CHOMSKY.

Monday 26 March 0:08:20 UTC 2012

Several people have sent me links to Tom Bartlett's Chronicle Review piece on Daniel Everett's attempt to demolish Noam Chomsky's hegemonic linguistic theory and the messy academic battle that has ensued. I wrote about Everett here, and anyone who's been reading LH for a while will know that I root for anyone going up against Chomsky and his minions, but … [Link]

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