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The wonders of Google Translate

I have sung the praises of Google Translate (GT) before (e.g., "Google Translate is even better now" [9/27/16]), but this morning something happened with GT that really tickled my fancy. One thing I use GT for is to compose texts in Chinese.  I find it to be a very powerful and easy to use input […]

Big Grams Cauldron

One of the most famous Chinese bronze vessels of antiquity, preserved in the Shanghai Museum, is the Dà Kè d?ng ??? ("Larger Ke Cauldron"), dated to ca. 891-886 BC.  Discovered around 1890 AD, it is 75.6 cm in diameter and 93.1 cm in height and weighs 201.5 kg. In terms of language and script, the […]

Utterly lost in translation

During a search for something else, I happened upon this page at the Bible Study Tools site. It provides a nice reminder (for the two or three people out there who might still need it) of the fact that it's dangerous to trust websites, in linguistic matters or in anything else. As the screenshot shows, […]

Days of our lives

Q: I found your post about the months very interesting. So we got the names from the Romans. And, as far as I can tell, we got the days of the week from Teutonic gods. English seems to gather from everyone. A: Yes, English is indeed a great gatherer, but the names for the days... ? Read More: Days of our lives

They call the wind 'Maria'?

I hope you appreciate the wisdom of the new policy on naming hurricanes that was announced here on September 11. The latest brutal storm to devastate the islands of the eastern Caribbean would not have been named for the mother of Jesus; it would have been named "Hurricane Malaria." That's more like it. Nasty names […]

Cultural invasion

Article in South China Morning Post (9/19/17) by Jasmine Siu: "Activist fined HK$3,000 for binning Hong Kong public library books in ‘fight against cultural invasion’ from mainland China:  Alvin Cheng Kam-mun, 29, convicted of theft over dumping of books printed in simplified Chinese characters" A radical Hong Kong activist was on Tuesday fined HK$3,000 for […]

In my wallet.

via Instagram

Talk like a pirate

It's Talk Like A Pirate Day again, but I've got nothing to add to our past coverage: "R!", 11/03/2003 "Type like a pirate day", 9/9/2004 "R!?", 9/19/2005 "Type like a pirate", 9/18/2006 "Pirate R as I-R-eland", 9/20/2006 "Powarrr law", 9/20/2006 "Post like a pirate", 9/19/2007 "R", 9/9/2008 "Said the Pirate King, Aaarrrf", 9/27/2010 "R R […]


I’m reading Veltman’s ???????????? ???? [The ward Sara], about which I will have much to say when I’ve read further, but I’ve hit a passage whose final word puzzles me, and I thought I’d canvass the assembled multitudes — those, at any rate, familiar with 19th-century Russian. He’s describing a scene outside a Moscow theater […]

Distributed confusion

Tweeted yesterday by the magazine Bon Appétit (which is apparently not the same as the restaurant management company): The average millennial spends $96 billion on food. Here's how we break it down More Summary

Opening for Anthropology News/SLA Section News Co-editor

As of the December AAA meetings, Anna Babel will be wrapping up her 3-year term as co-editor for the AN-SLA section news, and Ilana Gershon will be taking over as senior co-editor. This leaves an opening for a second co-editor. I circulate this notice to solicit nominations or ask for self-nominations, for consideration by our […]

Samuel Johnson's birthday

One of yesterday's Google Doodles commemorates Samuel Johnson's 308th birthday:  

Talking Gibberish.

Gaston Dorren asks a very good question in Aeon: Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots? He describes the various attempts to pin down mankind’s original language (“German was a popular candidate, but the 17th-century Swedish scholar Olof Rudbeck favoured his own mother tongue, for a reason that was nothing if not […]

How to Learn Swedish: 37 Lessons from My 6 Months Living in Sweden

When I realized I was going to have the chance to spend six months working in Sweden, I naturally got interested in the Swedish language. More so, when I started getting work emails I needed Google Translate to read. Even more so when...Show More Summary

Neo-Nazi kanji

Tattoo on the shoulder of a marcher in Charlottesville on Saturday, August 12: Source: "A lot of white supremacists seem to have a weird Asian fetish," Vice News, Dexter Thomas (9/12/17) People who know only the Chinese forms of the characters are puzzled by this tattoo.  It is a Japanese kanji, not a Chinese hanzi. It can […]

Patriarchal homestead

A tweet by Alex Gabuev: "Patriarch's residence" is "Male chauvinist village." This translation is obviously a part of joint effort to subvert international order — Alexander Gabuev (@AlexGabuev) September 13,...Show More Summary

Run the gambit?

Q: I keep hearing “gamut” misused, as in “run the gambit,” which doesn’t make sense. What’s the deal with people confusing these two words? A: Yes, “run the gambit” is on the loose, but “run the gamut” is much more popular in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the British National Corpus, and News on... ? Read More: Run the gambit?

Khalatov’s Hat.

Occasionally I feel guilty about neglecting what is, after all, part of this blog’s name, but now I have an occasion to remedy that failing. I’m reading Yuri Slezkine’s The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution (a very generous gift from an LH reader); it’s over a thousand pages long, because it […]

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