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

Language Log » "Moron" considered dangerous

Tuesday 10 October 20:17:04 UTC 2017

In all of the foofaraw about Rex Tillerson calling Donald Trump a "fucking moron", no one seems to have picked up on the fact the Mr. Tillerson may have endangered his immortal soul. (And not on account of the expletive.) In "The S-word and the F-word", 6/12/2004, I noted that the gospel quotes Jesus delivering a strongly-worded threat to people … [Link]

Language Log » What is Trump demanding now?

Tuesday 10 October 20:05:55 UTC 2017

Here's a nice crash blossom (that is, a difficult-to-parse ambiguous headline) noted on Twitter by The Economist's Lane Greene, with credit to his colleague James Waddell. In The Financial Times, a promotion of an article inside (a "reefer" in newspaper-speak) is headlined: "Trump demands dog 'Dreamers' deal." Via @james_waddell, a perfect example of headline ambiguity, including a verb more commonly … [Link]

Language Log » The vocabulary of sharp implements in Xinjiang

Tuesday 10 October 18:48:34 UTC 2017

Public notification posted in villages of Makit County (Màigàití xiàn 麦盖提县; Mәkit nah̡iyisi / Мәкит наһийиси مەكىت ناھىيىسى) near Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR): Source A few key terms: kěn 垦 means "reclaim; reclamation". Sìshíwǔ tuán 四十五团 refers to a particular military-agricultural bīngtuán 兵团 ("corps; brigade") in Xinjiang. Some of my archeological investigations in Xinjiang were carried out in … [Link]

Language Log » A polysyllabic character that can be read in two different ways

Tuesday 10 October 18:44:01 UTC 2017

Photo taken in Hangzhou by Nikita Kuzmin's Chinese teacher: This can be read either as: wúwèi zhīzú 吾味知足 ("I / my flavor know / feel sufficient / content") or as: wǔwèi zhīzú 五味知足 ("five flavors know / feel sufficient / content") It seems as though the Chinese are having a lot of fun with this quadrisyllabic, disemous character, as is … [Link] » The Japanese Bridge.

Tuesday 10 October 14:13:27 UTC 2017

Back in the early days of LH we had a long thread based on the local pronunciation of New York’s Kosciuszko Bridge; I now present a delightful followup (by John Moy) from the Metropolitan Diary section of the NY Times: Dear Diary: The construction of a new Kosciuszko Bridge, the demolition of the old one and coverage of how to … [Link]

Omniglot blog » 500 books in 50 days

Tuesday 10 October 10:34:02 UTC 2017

500 books in 50 days poster Today we have a guest post from Oliwia Raniewicz Have you started learning a foreign language by listening to fairy tales or children’s books in that language? Do you remember how intriguing it was to find out what hidden under those strange and foreign words? It probably interested you more than grammar books, even when you were older. Fairy tales … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day » Fucktickeling

Tuesday 10 October 7:00:00 UTC 2017

Tickeling as a form of foreplay I really like this guys ross – everything is going great but he is into fucktickeling and it’s just not my bag [Link] » Columbus’s Catalan.

Tuesday 10 October 0:00:54 UTC 2017

Jeffrey Herlihy-Mera of the University of Puerto Rico has a brief but interesting Lingua Franca piece on the national origins of Christopher Columbus: While conventionally regarded as Genovese, his language had resonances of Catalan. Columbus signed documents (and was referred to in state records) as “Colom” — a Catalan last name meaning “dove.” There is no record of him writing … [Link]


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