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4 Reasons French is Easy to Learn

Speaking French can transform your life and open you up to a whole new culture, and many wonderful friendships. So I can completely understand why you’d to learn how to speak French. However, I’ve heard from a lot of readers who are struggling with learning French. Show More Summary

More on Chinese telegraph codes

John McVey was rooting around in Language Log for recent posts about telegraphic codes, and stumbled upon this: "Chinese Telegraph Code (CTC)" (5/24/15) What we learned there is that the CTC consists of 10,000 numbers arbitrarily assigned to the same amount of characters, one number per character. John calls our attention to a different kind […]

Why do California license plates show “https://t.co/nVLDRIcDNl”? Wouldn’t “https://t.co/nmp1tKi7Fe” make more sense? https://t.co/uBAVpIUmmO

Why do California license plates show “https://t.co/nVLDRIcDNl”? Wouldn’t “https://t.co/nmp1tKi7Fe” make more sense? https://t.co/uBAVpIUmmO Why do California license plates show "https://t.co/nVLDRIcDNl"? Wouldn't "https://t.co/nmp1tKi7Fe"...Show More Summary

Ô Nô!

From the Guardian, Not the oignon: fury as France changes 2,000 spellings and ditches circumflex: French linguistic purists have voiced online anger at the loss of one of their favourite accents – the pointy little circumflex hat (ˆ) that sits on top of certain vowels. Changes to around 2,400 French words to simplify them for […]

How to Spice Up Your Swearing Game

This post originally appeared on Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. What the fuck has become so commonplace that, as our own Nancy Friedman pointed out, marketers are no longer shy about alluding to it. But its ubiquity has...Show More Summary

When “less” is “minus”

Q: Is it OK to use the phrase “less than” when teaching numeracy in elementary school? Example: “What is one less than five?” I suspect that many children confuse “less than” (meaning “smaller than”) with “less” (meaning “minus”). A: We’ve written several times on the blog about “less” vs. Show More Summary

Google???????????????????Google??????

Google????????????????? ?Gmail? ?Google?????? ?Google???????? ?Google Search Console? ??????????????????? ???? […] Google???????????????????Google?????? is a post from: ???????????????????????

Bumble-puppy.

I’ve just finished Maugham’s Ashenden stories (see this thread), and in the last one I found a word even better than Tingel-tangel: “Oh, come off it. Templeton isn’t the sort of chap to play bumble-puppy bridge with a girl like that unless he’s getting something out of it, and she knows a thing or two, […]

The year of the Golden Monkey is truly excellent

Time for Chinese New Year celebrations.  This is the year of the Monkey.  In this article from the online China Times, the customary couplet (it's more of a singlet in this case) on red paper features an interlingual pun: the characters ?? ("golden monkey"), when read in Mandarin, are pronounced j?n hóu, which is a […]

My real cats don’t know that I bought sashimi for Breezy, Tubbs, and the other kitties in Neko Atsume.

My real cats don’t know that I bought sashimi for Breezy, Tubbs, and the other kitties in Neko Atsume. My real cats don't know that I bought sashimi for Breezy, Tubbs, and the other kitties in Neko Atsume. — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) February 4, 2016 http://twitter.com/GrantBarrett/status/695300731730010113

9 Reasons Vietnamese is Easier Than You Think

Just how difficult is the Vietnamese language? Pretty much impossible, if you ask the Vietnamese themselves. The supposed difficulty of Vietnam's official language is a point of national pride amongst its 90 million inhabitants, andShow More Summary

might of, would of, could of, should of

A few years ago, The Telegraph ran an article about Americanisms on the BBC--or rather, an article about complaints about Americanisms on the BBC:Nick Seaton, Campaign for Real Education, said: “It is not a surprise that a few expressions...Show More Summary

Escalator smarts

From my files (sorry that the photograph is not in perfect focus): q?ng wù nìxiàng xíngz?u ?????? ("please don't walk in the opposite direction") The Chinese on the sign is clear, but neither the English nor the illustration makes much sense.  The English, though ungrammatical and unidiomatic, is slightly more intelligible than the prohibition sign, […]

More sound-loan Taiwanese

Michael Cannings sent in this photograph: (Source) The product for sale at 29 yuan per catty is not g?nm? ?? ("godmother" in Mandarin) but rather kam-á ?? ("tangerine" in Taiwanese).  They have borrowed the Mandarin near-homophone g?nm? ?? ("godmother") to write the Taiwanese kam-á ?? ("tangerine"). Heaven forbid that one should say or think gànm? […]

Finnegans Wake Is a Hit in China.

This news is three years old, but I just learned of it, and it’s still of interest; Jonathan Kaiman in the Guardian reports: After spending eight years translating the first third of James Joyce’s famously opaque novel Finnegans Wake into Chinese, Dai Congrong assumed it was a labour of love rather than money. The book’s […]

Chinese-English rap

Thorin Engeseth writes: I am a big fan of the English musician Tricky, who recently released an album with a song on it called "Beijing to Berlin". According to an email his marketing team sent out: The enigmatic voice on the single's A-side, "Beijing To Berlin," belongs to the Chinese rapper and producer Ivy ??. Tricky […]

Apostrophic illnesses

Q: I’m a physician who’s irritated by the increasing tendency for writers to omit the apostrophe in a disease named for a person, as in “Parkinson disease.” I resist this, and write “Parkinson’s disease,” which I think is correct. A: You’re in an unfortunate position here. As a doctor, you’re caught between the recommended usage... ? Read More: Apostrophic illnesses

Grammelot.

Over a decade ago, Mark Liberman posted at the Log about a garbled account of a “magical sounding gibberish language”; I won’t confuse you with the details, which turned out to be irrelevant, but the upshot was that the actual term was grammelot, which seems to have been invented by Dario Fo. A followup post […]

The language of sexual minorities

Nathan Hopson writes from a conference at Nagoya, Japan: One of the discussants just mentioned that the words tóngq? ??? tóngf? ?? are recently being used in China to refer respectively to a "wife with a homosexual husband" and a "husband with a homosexual wife". Since these are neologisms, there are no established English translations […]

When I think about Anil Dash’s “The Web We Lost,” I think most about the blogging ideal of “add links to it, yo.” https://t.co/mfQYfCXBYk

When I think about Anil Dash’s “The Web We Lost,” I think most about the blogging ideal of “add links to it, yo.” https://t.co/mfQYfCXBYk When I think about Anil Dash's "The Web We Lost," I think most about the blogging ideal of "add links to it, yo." https://t.co/mfQYfCXBYk — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) February 2, 2016 […]

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