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What is the Best Age to Learn a New Language?

by Kamil Raiz   It is a widely accepted notion that the best age to learn a new language is during The post What is the Best Age to Learn a New Language? appeared first on Languages Around the Globe.

The Last Ubykh.

From Circassian World: Tevkif Esenç The Last Ubykh Tevfik Esenç (1904 – October 7, 1992) was a Circassian exile in Turkey and the last known speaker of the Ubykh language. Esenç was raised by his Ubykh-speaking grandparents for a time in the village of Haci Osman in Turkey, and he served a term as the […]

Bilinguals Experience Time Differently.

Anne Rothwell, Press Officer at Lancaster University, reports on a new study by linguists Panos Athanasopoulos and Emanuel Bylund, who “have discovered that people who speak two languages fluently think about time differently depending on the language context in which they are estimating the duration of events.” The paper is “The Whorfian Time Warp: Representing […]

16 Must-Know Words and Phrases For Any Language

What are the basic phrases you need to know when travelling? Often, native English speakers believe that everyone speaks English. So when they travel, they don’t bother learning the language of the place they’re visiting. After all, it’s fine to get by in English, right? Well, maybe. Show More Summary

My Job.

This was posted on Facebook, and I thought I might as well put it here, since I often complain about bad proofreading/editing in books and since non-editors tend not to know these distinctions: Different communities of editors use different terms for similar concepts. I’m in Canada — and Canadian editors tend to use the terminology […]

From Mrs. and Miss to Ms.

Q: Your article about “Mrs.” and “missus” doesn’t mention “Ms.,” which I believe showed up in the 17th century but died out before being revived centuries later. Would you like to fill in the blanks? A: You’re right that “Ms” (without the dot) showed up occasionally in the 1600s as an abbreviation for “mistress,” a... ? Read More: From Mrs. and Miss to Ms.

Yay us

Desmond Fishman is running for parliament, and has discovered (one of) the secrets of political rhetoric: The first two panels:

Save me from dudes who REALLY WANT TO ENGAGE as they criticize the language of other people. Three dudes this week.

Save me from dudes who REALLY WANT TO ENGAGE as they criticize the language of other people. Three dudes this week. Save me from dudes who REALLY WANT TO ENGAGE as they criticize the language of other people. Three dudes this week. — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) May 25, 2017

Words for Porridge in Bantuphone Africa.

Birgit Ricquier’s “The History of Porridge in Bantuphone Africa, with Words as Main Ingredients” (from Afriques 5 [2014], “Manger et boire en Afrique avant le XXe siècle”) is the kind of word-centric historical investigation I love; I’ll quote a few bits to whet your appetite. From the introduction: Porridge as a mash is mostly prepared […]

Resisting reunification

Quick! How do you parse this headline? “Resisting reunification by force to get Taiwan nowhere: mainland spokesperson” (Xinhua, 5/25/17) Now read the first sentence of the article: A Chinese mainland spokesperson warned Thursday that the Taiwan administration’s attempt to resist reunification by the use of force will get the island nowhere. Is that what you […]

Denys Johnson-Davies, RIP.

The name Denys Johnson-Davies sounded vaguely familiar to me, and it turned out he’s translated a number of Arabic novels I own or have read; he died a couple of days ago, and Arabic Literature (in English) has a nice post on eleven books he wrote or translated. The first is his 2006 Memories of […]

A ‘post-’ post

Q: I’ve been struck by how often the prefix “post-“ has been used lately: “post-religion,” “post-truth,” “post-contemporary,” and of course “postmodern” as well as “post postmodern.” What do you think? A: Yes, the prefix “post-” gets a workout these days, but it’s been a workhorse for centuries. A lot of the early uses are now... ? Read More: A ‘post-’ post

Donald Trump: Cognitive decline or TDS?

Sharon Begley, “Trump wasn’t always so linguistically challenged. What could explain the change?“, STAT 5/23/2017: STAT reviewed decades of Trump’s on-air interviews and compared them to Q&A sessions since his inauguration. The differences are striking and unmistakable. Show More Summary

An Obscure Linguistic Item.

Jeremy Adler reviews (TLS, Oct. 16, 2015) a book by “the writer Schuldt, who never uses his first name” that is obvious LH material: The reappearance, after more than thirty years, of one of his finest short works, In Togo, dunkel (In Togo, Dark), at long last coming out from a leading publisher, thus provides […]

Chinese emoji, with a twist

Adrienne LaFrance has an eye-opening article about “The Westernization of Emoji” in The Atlantic (5/22/17).  Here’s the summary statement at the beginning: The takeout box and the fortune cookie are perceived as emblems of Chinese culture, when they’re actually central to the American experience of it. The Unicode Consortium will be issuing dozens of new […]


Yesterday’s Dumbing of Age: In fact Walky is right about homonym. The OED’s overall gloss is “The same name or word used to denote different things”, with the more specific sense “Philol. Applied to words having the same sound, but differing in meaning”. Billie is right about the etymology — for the verb funk “To blow smoke upon […]

“Little Man” the eating machine

There’s a curious article by Kathy Chu and Menglin Huang in the Wall Street Journal (5/21/17): “How a Toddler Who Loves Eating Transfixed China:  2½-year-old Xiaoman is an online sensation, bringing fame, a Pampers ad and questions about...Show More Summary

Siri can you hear me? has some perfect linguaphile clickbait: “Watch People With Accents Confuse the Hell Out of AI Assistants.”  By “accents” they mean, non-American ones (e.g., Irish English). The AI Assistants were Siri, Amazon Echo, and Google Home. I’m curious about how well the voice recognition systems in these devices work with varieties of spoken English, so […]

Cultural Immersion: How Learning 20 Basic Phrases Transformed My Travel Experience

For ages I’ve recognised, at least in theory, that learning even just a small handful sentences in a new language can take you a long way on a holiday, and give you a unique experience of cultural immersion. I really enjoyed readingShow More Summary

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