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 » Annotating the First Page of the First Navajo-English Dictionary

Tuesday 7 November 20:53:54 UTC 2017

Don't miss Danielle Geller's remarkable, moving personal essay in The New Yorker, "Annotating the First Page of the First Navajo-English Dictionary." Here's how it starts: The first, incomplete Navajo-English Dictionary was compiled, in 1958, by Leon Wall, an official in the U.S. government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Wall, who was in charge of a literacy program on the Navajo reservation, … [Link] » What’s a Lyska?

Tuesday 7 November 14:58:54 UTC 2017

I ran across the Russian word лыска [lyska] on this page, where one of the photos shows a станок (machine-tool) for producing flat surfaces, including lyski (“Обработка плоскостей, лысок, уступов”). Naturally, I wanted to know how to translate it, but it turned out to be missing from all my bilingual dictionaries, including the three-volume one that usually has even the … [Link]

Urban Word of the Day » trump bump

Tuesday 7 November 8:16:58 UTC 2017

The painful knot on your forehead that develops from repeatedly banging your head against the wall out of frustration, disbelief and/or abject horror at Trump's inability to form complete thoughts & sentences, tell the truth, treat people with respect, etc etc etc. (Basically anything he does) "Dude, your Trump bump looks wicked" "Yeah, I just listened to his latest thoughts … [Link]

Language Log » The American Dialect Society in the New York Times crossword

Tuesday 7 November 4:56:28 UTC 2017

The American Dialect Society gets a nice shout-out in Tuesday's New York Times crossword. More than a shout-out, in fact: the puzzle is actually ADS-themed. Subscribers to the Times crossword can download the puzzle in Across Lite format or as a PDF. After you've solved it, you can read my commentary in the NYT's Wordplay column. (Or just skip to … [Link] » Dostoevsky’s Nasty Story.

Tuesday 7 November 1:46:57 UTC 2017

The plot of Dostoevsky’s Скверный анекдот (translated as “A Nasty Anecdote,” “A Nasty Story,” and “An Unpleasant Predicament”; Garnett translation here) is easily stated: the high-ranking Ivan Ilich Pralinsky drunkenly decides to drop in on his subordinate Pseldonimov’s wedding celebration to demonstrate his “humanitarian” ideas and ruins it, getting even drunker and making incoherent speeches and spending the night in … [Link]


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