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More Fool Me.

Matt sent me the following request for information: I’m writing to ask you about the phrase “more fool me.” I recently used it in a translation, only to have it changed by the editor to “More the fool me.” I was going to ask him to change it back, but I did a quick Google […]

Greek’s Vowelled Undersong.

A correspondent writes that he was puzzled by Oscar Wilde’s reference to “vowelled” Greek, which apparently alludes to this passage from Keats’s Lamia: Soft went the music the soft air along, While fluent Greek a vowelled undersong Kept up among the guests. What the devil did he mean by “vowelled undersong”? My correspondent did some […]

Lunch order

Today’s xkcd: Mouseover title: “GO FOR LUNCH, REPEAT, GO FOR LUNCH.”

Which, close enough

John Herrman, “The Online Marketplace That’s a Portal to the Future of Capitalism“, New York Times Magazine, 5/3/2017: Among the items I sent to my friend, on our modest budget: a laser pointer; 100-count “super strong” small magnets; a functioning violin; a spare part for the window mechanism on an Audi A6; a deep-V-neck sweater; […]

Wetware lives in meatspace

I missed Heather McHugh’s poem “Hackers can sidejack cookies” — a collage of fragments from the Jargon File — when the New Yorker published the text in 2009. Here’s the author reading it at B.U. on 4/17/2010: A collage-homage to Guy L. Steele and Eric S. Raymond. A beige toaster is a maggotbox. A bit […]

OMG! Is texting wrecking our language?

How many times have you heard someone say that texting is ruining your spelling? Or, perhaps even more dramatically, the whole English language? It’s a point of debate that has only intensified with the advent of smartphones and permanent...Show More Summary

How to Learn Chinese in China – Infographic

Have you ever considered moving abroad to learn Chinese in China? China is an incredible country with more linguistic diversity The post How to Learn Chinese in China – Infographic appeared first on Languages Around the Globe.

Unknown language #9

Forwarded by Geoff Wade (sans Twitter comments): HELP NEEDED: A researcher has asked if we can help with translation of this… — Royal Asiatic Soc (@RAS_Soc) May 4, 2017 There are a number of things about this piece that make me doubt that the symbols on it represent translatable language.  The three symbols in […]

The Gendered History of Learning Old English.

Mary Dockray-Miller (Professor of English at Lesley University) has a JSTOR Daily post that features a bit of history hitherto unknown to me: The male professors who led the field of Anglo-Saxon studies in the late nineteenth century emphatically defined English Philology—the study of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English—as a scientific, empirical subject that was also […]

Strong /t/

Peter Serafinowicz has created and uploaded to YouTube several dozen videos in the “Sassy Trump” series, in which he revoices Donald Trump’s words in a stereotypically gay manner. One example: Since the originals are of course also available, this offers an interesting opportunity to investigate (one person’s idea of) gay speech stereotypes in a quasi-“matched […]

An overlooked Russian loan etymology in Chuvash and Mari

I was surprised to find Mari paj??rka, p??j??rka and Chuvash payarka ‘small amount’ in Agyagási’s set of shared Mari–Chuvash lexical material of unknown etymology (“Der sprachliche Nachlaß der Spät-Gorodec Bevölkerung in den tschuwaschischen und mariischen Mundarten”, 2000). Show More Summary

squint, cross-eyed

If you have any interest in the doctor-patient relationship, I very much recommend Dariusz Galasi?ski's blog. He writes thought-provokingly about various things that he and I have in common: being immigrant linguist patients or linguist immigrant patients or immigrant patient linguists. Show More Summary

The sanitization of a sensual Chinese poem

From Michael Pratt, a former professor of Spanish, who relocated to Shenzhen to learn more about Chinese poetry, which was his chief motivation for moving to China: At times, when I discuss Tang shi ("Tang poetry") with Chinese acquaintances, I am struck by their seeming dogmatism about the range of possible interpretations. For example, in a […]


I remember reading about this years ago, but I’d forgotten it because it’s so counterintuitive: the state Wyoming, to quote that Wikipedia article, “was named after the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania, with the name ultimately being derived from the Munsee word xwé:wam?nk, meaning ‘at the big river flat.'” The name is so indelibly associated with […]

Masonic Script.

Victor Mair has a Log post about an intriguing puzzle: Michael Carasik, on behalf of NAPH (National Association of Professors of Hebrew), has forwarded to me a letter that was written to O. P. Schaub in the 1920s. Can anyone identify the script and/or translate it for him? I urge you to visit the link […]

White dude challenges Chinese speakers in Shanghai

Jayme, his gangling arms covered with colorful tattoos, sallies forth onto Nanjing Road, the busiest shopping street in Shanghai, and tests the local denizens and tourists on their language skills (reading, writing, and pronunciation): Jayme catches them on one "error" after another (very few respond to his questions correctly).  Some people who have seen this […]

International Greetings: How to Say “Hello” in 29 Languages

What’s the first word you learn in any language? “Hello”, of course! “Hello” is the way you’ll meet new people, make new friends, and start conversations. Even if you’re not aiming for fluency in a language, just learning this one little...Show More Summary

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