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Google Translate just keeps getting bigger and bigger and better and better.  As of today, it now includes Kazakh.  And here's the first word that I typed in Google Translate + Kazakh: ????? You enter text with the official Kazakh Cyrillic alphabet, which is accessible through a keypad at the bottom left of the entry […]

Anastasia Marchenko.

As I wrote here, I’ve been reading Anastasia Marchenko’s 1847 collection ??????? ??????? (“Travel notes”); having finished the two stories in that first edition, ??? ???????? ?? ?????? ???? (“Three variations on an old [in the 1853 edition, ???? 'one'] theme”) and ??????????? (“The governess”), I’m ready to add her to the ranks of the […]

"Not a verb" is not an argument

This morning, when I checked out the website of The Atlantic, I saw an article by Megan Garber with the headline, "Gifting Is Not a Verb": Megan has written perceptively about language before, notably in her piece from last year, "English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet," which played a large role in bringing attention […]

Random suit

Nathan Hopson bought this "rain suit" the other day: Upon first glance, "random suit" sounded strange, but at the same time somehow familiar. First of all, here's your "Random Suit Generator". And here's a "Random Suit Man" by Katros on DeviantArt. There are lots of "Random suit ideas" on Pinterest. And there's a "Random suit […]

Why shavers are little

Q: In respect to your article about “little shaver,” the phrase actually comes from bitti chavo (“little boy”) in Romanichal, the Romany language spoken in England. It’s ultimately derived from chavo, Romany for “youth.” A: Yes, theShow More Summary


Bill from Maple City asked about the word contrite. From the context of what he was reading, he figured that it meant sorry. In popular use, that’s true, but it can also range up to an industrial-strength level of remorse. In its original sense, contrite referred to a physical state. Show More Summary


A while back I quoted this passage from MacDiarmid’s On a Raised Beach: I try them with the old Norn words – hraun, Duss, rønis, queedaruns, kollyarum; They hvarf from me in all directions Over the hurdifell – klett, millya hellya, hellyina bretta, Hellyina wheeda, hellyina grø, bakka, ayre, –     And lay my world in […]

Thick toast: another new Cantonese pun

For the last few weeks, we have been pondering the ban on puns in the People's Republic of China: "When puns are outlawed …" (12/9/14) "It's not just puns that are being banned in China" (12/7/14) "Punning banned in China" (11/29/14) Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, Cantonese speakers are coming up with new words, most of […]

A Mexican colony in Louisiana before Columbus?

In the latest issue of the International Journal of American Linguistics, Cecil Brown, Soren Wichmann, and David Beck announce a rather interesting finding: that Chitimacha [is] A Mesoamerican Language in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Show More Summary

Mazel Tov, Molotov, whatever

Jessie Opoien, "The political pitfalls of cultural crossover: Scott Walker edition", The Capitol Times 12/10/2014: In an undated letter unearthed by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now during the August release of documents from the first of two John Doe investigations related to the governor, Walker responded to a letter from Milwaukee attorney and chairman […]

Carissa and Karanda.

I was looking up something else in Alan Davidson’s Penguin Companion to Food (see this post) when my eye was caught by an entry “Carissa and Karanda.” Both exotic-sounding words were unknown to me; the entry began: two closely related fruits of which the former is indigenous to S. Africa and the latter to S. […]

Big Data vs. Amateur Linguistics

Neil Dolinger sent in the following banner ad that popped up on his computer screen one day: If you're wondering what this is about, I'll leave it to Neil to tell his own story, because he tells it best: When I visited a website I frequent, the attached banner ad appeared for Toyota. A banner […]

How educated is your English?

Q: On this morning’s news show, someone said people should “educate” themselves on the dearth of women in computer science. To my mind, people should “inform,” not “educate,” themselves on issues. Am I wrong? A: In modern English, the verb “educate” can mean either to teach or to inform, so one can be educated in... ? Read More: How educated is your English?

sitemeter = malware

Apologies to anyone (and it must be lots of you) who tried to reach a LLOG page yesterday and got redirected to This was the result of the latest malfunction in the tool for counting visits and referrals, which we've been using for the past decade. Increasingly often over the past year or […]

More Chuvash and Mari at OpenStreetMap

I am drawing up a table of placename abbreviations from Ashmarin’s Chuvash dictionary along with their geographical coordinates, e.g. ????-?. = ?. ????-????, ???????????? ?????? ????? = 55.571, 47.7352. This will allow me to more easily map the distribution of some isoglosses that have interested me. Show More Summary

Old Chinese.

Another amazing gift of the internet: Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction, by William H. Baxter and Laurent Sagart, costs over $60, but you can download its Old Chinese reconstructions for free here. Via Matt at No-sword, who quotes this entertaining footnote: We adopt the term “Kra-Dai” proposed by Ostapirat (2000) in place of the traditional […]

An interview with Pat

She discusses books, blogs, and journalism in an interview with Grammarist.  

A Month Living in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia [Travel Update]

This past month, I have expanded the list of countries I’ve lived in by one (I’ll be doing it again early next year, more on that later!), and today I am happy to tell you all about my experience in Bali, Indonesia. I’d never been to...Show More Summary

When puns are outlawed …

Scott Alexander ("Come ye to Bethlinkhem", 12/8/2014) does his best to generate sympathy for the Chinese authorities: China bans puns on the grounds that they may mislead children and defile cultural heritage. Language Log is on the story, and discusses the (extremely plausible) theory that this is part of a crackdown on people who use […]

Another noun pile headline

"Blindfold sex knife attack ex-wife jailed for murder attempt", BBC News 12/8/2014 — The facts are more or less what you'd guess by putting all the words on the table and making up a story about them: A woman who tried to murder her ex-husband after blindfolding him following sex and telling him she had a surprise in […]

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