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 » A Child’s Garden of Curses.

Tuesday 24 October 23:34:02 UTC 2017

The admirable Conrad sent me a link to “A Child’s Garden of Curses: A Gender, Historical, and Age-Related Evaluation of the Taboo Lexicon,” by Kristin L. Jay and Timothy B. Jay, and how could I not post it? The abstract: Child swearing is a largely unexplored topic among language researchers, although assumptions about what children know about taboo language form … [Link]

Omniglot blog » Ounces, drams and pennyweights

Tuesday 24 October 16:47:05 UTC 2017

Weighing scales How many drams are there in an ounce? If you are familiar with the British Imperial System of measurement, you might know that there are 16 drams (dr) to an ounce (oz), and 16oz to a pound (lb). There is an even smaller unit, the grain: there are 27.344 grains to a dram, 437.5 to an ounce, and 7,000 to … [Link]

Language Log » Transcripts not always accurate…

Tuesday 24 October 9:07:45 UTC 2017

Matt Yglesias, "Trump’s latest big interview is both funny and terrifying", Vox 10/23/2017: Bartiromo is an extraordinarily soft interviewer who doesn’t ask Trump any difficult questions or press him on any subject. That makes the extent to which he manages to flub the interview all the more striking. He’s simply incapable of discussing any topic at any length in anything … [Link]

Language Log » "Good morning" considered dangerous

Tuesday 24 October 8:23:33 UTC 2017

Yotam Berger, "Israel Arrests Palestinian Because Facebook Translated 'Good Morning' to 'Attack Them'", Haaretz 10/22/2017: The Israel Police mistakenly arrested a Palestinian worker last week because they relied on automatic translation software to translate a post he wrote on his Facebook page. The Palestinian was arrested after writing “good morning,” which was misinterpreted; no Arabic-speaking police officer read the post before … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day » pupper necking

Tuesday 24 October 7:30:00 UTC 2017

The act of slowing down traffic to look at a cute dog. Guy: “Why is this guy in front of me going so damn slow?!” Girl: “He must be pupper necking, look at that adorable doggo on the sidewalk!” [Link]

Language Log » Gender distinction in languages

Tuesday 24 October 1:52:07 UTC 2017

[This is a guest post by Krista Ryu] It may be true that the problem of gender inequality is more severe in East Asian countries than in European countries. However, in terms of languages, Indo-European languages actually distinguish genders while East Asian languages traditionally do not. I came across a historical fact that the Korean word geunyeo 그녀 (she) was … [Link] » Lunfardo.

Tuesday 24 October 0:29:04 UTC 2017

Bridget Gleeson writes for BBC Travel about a subject close to my heart: the characteristic local slang of Buenos Aires called lunfardo (whose name Wikipedia says is “from the Italian lumbardo or inhabitant of Lombardy in the local dialect”). She says that when the Argentine police first heard it, they assumed that it was “a sort of criminal jargon”: But … [Link]


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