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Posted on imgur: View post on Considering all the consternation over the meaning of "like a bitch" lately, I can understand why this poor soul's attention would be drawn to #41.  To tell the truth, though, I wouldn't know how to respond to any of these "questions". [h.t. Tim Leonard]

Reviving Myaamia.

I’ve had fond feelings for PRI’s The World ever since they interviewed me back in 2008; it seems like every time I listen to the show there’s something interesting, and today it was very much of LH relevance: How the Miami Tribe got its language back, reported by Carol Zall. You can listen to the […]

When Did “Baked In” Become So Baked In?

In what precious little downtime they have this pell-mell campaign, the commentariat is apparently relieving stress in the kitchen, gearing up for holiday sweets, or bingeing on The Great British Bake Off. Consider a few remarks from last month. Show More Summary

When “my wife” is “the wife”

Q: Why does a husband refer to his spouse as “the wife,” not “my wife,” and a wife likewise to “the husband,” not “my husband”? Any insight would be greatly appreciated. A: English speakers have been using “the” in place of a possessive pronoun like “my” or “your” in reference to relatives (husbands, wives, fathers,... ? Read More: When “my wife” is “the wife”

The reality of censorship in the PRC

When we published the ABC Chinese-English Dictionary from Hawaii in 1996, the original American edition had this definition for Lin Biao:  "veteran Communist military leader; Mao Zedong's designated successor until his mysterious death". Show More Summary

Fiction Versus Nonfiction.

Richard Lea has a piece for the Guardian exploring how different cultures deal with a distinction that seems natural to the English-speaking world: […] But according to the writer Aleksandar Hemon, this strange chasm doesn’t even exist in the language of his birth. In Bosnian, says Hemon, “there are no words for fiction and nonfiction, […]

Look out kid

Since Bob Dylan got the Nobel Prize for Literature, here's an old music video with some words to open discussion: (I'm in China for ten days — Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai — so posting may be a bit erratic…)

How “Locker-Room” Became Synonymous with Dirty Talk

Donald Trump has slandered many people, places, and things during his presidential campaign. Last week, he added one more to the list: the locker room. “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,”...Show More Summary

Green’s Dictionary of Slang Comes Online   

Love the internet or see it as the devil’s playground, there’s one thing for which it seems the dream home: reference. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, all those thick, square tomes of yesteryear, in my case the three volumes which made up the 2010 print edition of Green’s Dictionary of Slang, are surely over. Show More Summary

New English Words: September 2016 Additions to the Oxford English Dictionary

The English language is dynamic. This means it is always changing. Older words fall into obsolescence, for example malagrugrous which in Scotland once meant dismal, is no longer used. This is counteracted by the development, usually through popular culture, of new words. It wasn’t too long ago that our...

Green’s Dictionary of Slang Online.

John Cowan writes in a new comment to this 2010 thread: The Internet works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform, and some news is good news. After They Who Shall Not Be Named reneged on their promise to make GDoS searchable with a “We won’t do it: sue us if you dare”, Green was […]

"People's Re-fuking of Chee-na"

The following video was posted to YouTube on 10/11/16: The speaker is Yau Wai-ching, a newly elected member of Hong Kong's Legco (Legislative Council).  We have already met Ms. Yau in this post: "A Sanskrit tattoo in Hong Kong" (10/4/16) While taking the oath of office, Yao repeatedly refers to the PRC as the "People's […]

Green's Dictionary of Slang goes online

Today, Green's Dictionary of Slang (GDoS for short) launches its online version. This is excellent news, coming more than five years after Jonathon Green published the print edition of his exhaustive three-volume reference work. As I wrote in the New York Times Book Review at the time, It's a never-ending challenge to keep up with […]


An interesting example of meaningful uh: As an athlete, I've been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that's not locker room talk. — Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) October 10, 2016 The effect seems different from um, in a subtle way. A dozen years ago, I observed that ("And uh — and then what?", […]

Melania’s pussy bow

Q: In honor of one of my fave blog topics, why is it called a “pussy bow”? PS: I long for the days when we could giggle at newscasters who had to say “Pussy Riot.” A: “Pussy bow,” a term for a large, floppy bow at the neck of a woman’s blouse, has been in... ? Read More: Melania’s pussy bow


Photo via CNN.Sorry, I needed a picture. The news around Donald Trump's rapey caught-on-tape comments has seen the word lewd bandied around quite a bit, and I've seen a fair amount of complaint about its use to describe what Trump said. Show More Summary

Brothers, Buddies, and Bros.

A good OUPBlog post by Katherine Connor Martin from a few months back describes the history of derivatives of the word brother: The English lexicon expands in innumerable ways. For instance, new words can be borrowed from other languages (café), arise through imitation of a sound (like oink or boom), and be formed from existing […]

Get Ready to Travel and Master the Basics of a Language in Just 7 Days

True story: on a trip to France I walked into a coifferie believing that it would be a coffee shop A coifferie is not a coffee shop. It’s a hair salon. Boy did I feel silly. And a little guilty about my lack of French skills. Have you...Show More Summary

Unmarked loanwords in Tscheremissisches Wörterbuch

In Tscheremissisches Wörterbuch known loanwords in Mari are usually noted as such, e.g. “ta?a ‘Widder, Hammel, Schafbock’ [ Unmarked loanwords in Tscheremissisches Wörterbuch The post Unmarked loanwords in Tscheremissisches Wörterbuch appeared first on Christopher Culver.

Roger Angell’s Love of the Word Tatterdemalion Is Contagious

On the July 21, 2014, edition of Slate’s sports podcast “Hang Up and Listen,” Stefan Fatsis discussed the writer Roger Angell's affection for the word “tatterdemalion.” This week, the 95-year-old Angell used the word again. An updated...Show More Summary

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