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The 4/30/2015 Pie Comic: [h/t George Kesteven] The end of Borges' essay "El Idioma Analítico de John Wilkins": Esperanzas y utopías aparte, acaso lo más lúcido que sobre el lenguaje se ha escrito son estas palabras de Chesterton: "El hombre sabe que hay en el alma tintes más desconcertantes, más innumerables y más anónimos que los colores de […]

Names of the Elements in Chinese.

A remarkable post by Victor Mair at the Log begins by quoting a query from a reader: I was wondering what the periodic table of elements looked like in China, and found this image. This may or may not be the “official” periodic table, but I thought it was interesting to see the similarities in […]

Hipmunk City Love: Hiking, Biking, Eating, and Sleeping in Seoul

Seoul is a city known for its historic temples and palaces as well as its modern, high-tech skyscrapers. However, not everyone knows that a river runs through it, and it is surrounded by mountains. If you are planning a trip to Seoul, you should plan to add some hiking and biking to your itinerary so you can see it all. Show More Summary

Foucauld's Tuareg (Tamahaq) dictionary on Wikisource

A reader of this blog, Julian Jarosch, wrote in to announce a collaborative project that will very likely interest some other readers: The purpose of writing to you is to ‘promote’ a project I started some years ago: digitizing Charles de Foucauld’s Dictionnaire touareg – français on Wikisource. Show More Summary

How fake is a fakir?

Q: I tremble as I step on the tracks of the linguist Mark Liberman, whom you cite in your “nor’easter” post, but “faker” as an adjective of degree just doesn’t sound right to me. And it’s not in the dictionary built into my computer. A: We don’t see anything wrong with using “faker” as the... ? Read More: How fake is a fakir?

Names of the chemical elements in Chinese

Mike Pope relayed to me the following from his son Zack, a high school physics teacher: I was wondering what the periodic table of elements looked like in China, and found this image. This may or may not be the "official" periodic table, but I thought it was interesting to see the similarities in the […]

Park party.

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A Multilingual Magnate, Continued.

As a follow-up to this post, and as a convenient summary of Dmitritsky’s self-reinventions — both he and the heroine Salomea are by now presenting themselves as entirely different people, she as the Frenchwoman Ernestine de Millevoie (see this post) and he as the Hungarian Volobuzh — I offer this paragraph, in which Dmitritsky tries […]

Linguistic terminology or band name?

This quiz is unfairly difficult: "Linguistics or band name?", lingBuzzFeed 4/20/2015. Any quiz of the form "X or band name?" is going to be hard, because there are at least tens of thousands of band names, so that even if you know that "Semantic Saturation" is a term from psycholinguistics, how would you be sure that […]

Eggcorn of the month

James Fallows discusses his experience as a juror — "Build Your Vocabulary, 'Ass Baton' Edition", The Atlantic 5/2/2015: Through the examination and cross-exams in this case, attorneys for both sides were careful to make sure that even very familiar terms were spelled out to remove the last bit of ambiguity. […] There was one exception, the […]

"Brain fade" in Britain

Ian Preston sent a link to a recent article about slips of the tongue by David Cameron in the current election campaign in the UK "David Cameron makes another gaffe: 'This election is all about my career… sorry, I mean country'", 5/2/2015: David Cameron has made another gaffe on the election campaign trail – this time […]

A Piece of Cake.

A Lingua Franca post by Ben Yagoda takes off from a 1965 remark by Robert Manry, a copy editor for the Cleveland Plain Dealer: “I told myself that if most of the days ahead were as pleasant as this, our trip would be a breeze, or, as the English say, a piece of cake.” Yagoda, […]

AN News: “At the Crossroads of Linguistics and Anthropology: Disciplinary perspectives on language documentation” by Lise Dobrin (University of Virginia) and Niko Besnier (University of Amsterdam)

Anthropology News Article by Lise Dobrin and Niko Besnier For a long time in anthropology, the documentation of languages on the brink of disappearing was negatively tainted as salvage: quaint in its Boasian particularism, inappropriately...Show More Summary

OMG! American English

The star of this popular Voice of America program is Jessica Beinecke ( Bái Jié ??).  Her Mandarin is quite amazing; indeed, I would say that it is nothing short of phenomenal.  Here's a sample: The title of that particular video is "OMG! ?? Pick-up Line Do's & Don'ts!"  The Mandarin term in question that […]

Hipmunk City Love: What to Do During Your Days and Nights in Honolulu

When you’re on a tropical island surrounded by clear, azure blue water, taking pleasure in that water should be a priority. Honolulu’s watersport options are plentiful; they range from relaxing kayak rides to adrenaline-pumping kiteboarding adventures. Show More Summary

A Balashon Milestone.

I’ve linked to Balashon, the “Hebrew Language Detective,” any number of times, since the detailed etymological investigations there are meat and drink to me, and I’m happy to report it’s reached its 500th post. I am also happy to report that thanks to readers clicking on Google and Amazon ads and links, “that small amount […]

Maps and charts of the world's languages

A week ago on Thursday (4/23/15), the following article appeared in the Washington Post:  "The world’s languages, in 7 maps and charts". These maps in the WP are thought-provoking and informative, but it is unfortunate that, like many other misguided sources, they lump all the Chinese languages (which they incorrectly call "dialects") into one. That's […]

Do we know the ropes?

Q: I’ve heard that “show ’em the ropes” is of theatrical origin, not nautical, as Pat suggested on WNYC. The ropes controlled the stage machinery. Sailors didn’t use the term “ropes.” A: The Oxford English Dictionary defines “know the ropes,” “learn the ropes,” and “understand the ropes” as to “be experienced in or familiar with... ? Read More: Do we know the ropes?

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