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When the future is present

Q: I’ve noticed that people who write Dear Abby often say something like “I am being married in the fall” where I would say “I am getting married in the fall.” Is “being married” correct here? A: The short answer is yes, but expressing the future in English can get (or be) as complicated as... ? Read More: When the future is present

New Dialects.

1) Of Welsh. “Carmarthen” of The Economist writes about efforts to revive the Welsh language: But the Welsh that can be heard in schools and that is spoken by the sports commentators on the Blue Boar’s small television set is different from the kind that many native speakers grew up with. A standardisation centre at […]

"Cladly dressed"

From reader BKS: Someone used "cladly dressed" in a comment to The Guardian, and it appears to be an up and coming 21st Century phrase. A search of didn't turn up any instances of "cladly", but as BKS noted, there are a few examples in recent books: With nakedness we find quite often the opposite […]

Uyghur läghmän and Mandarin l?miàn.

Victor Mair has a post at the Log involving exactly the kind of detailed historical-linguistic analysis I like, about the apparent but hard-to-parse relationship between the Uyghur and Mandarin terms for pulled noodles, läghmän and l?miàn respectively; as several commenters point out, läghmän can’t be of Turkic origin because Turkic words don’t start with l, […]

HUGE Database.

Robin Straaijer writes at Slate about the Hyper Usage Guide of English or HUGE database, based out of Leiden University, that includes “more than 75 usage guides and 123 usage problems in the English language, spanning a period of nearly 250 years.” He goes into some detail about the history of “hopefully” peevery (“It seems […]

Some minority languages of the Mosul Plain

For most of the past decade, while first the rest of Iraq and then Syria (150,000 dead, 2.5 million refugees) have burned, Northern Iraq has seemed like a relative oasis of calm. That has changed rather suddenly: with ISIS' religious persecution, and now American airstrikes, Northern Iraq and its minorities are suddenly prominent in the headlines. Show More Summary


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Rick Perlstein's alleged plagiarism

Alexandra Alter, "Reagan Book Sets Off Debate", NYT 8/4/2014: Mr. Perlstein’s new 856-page book, “The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan,” which comes out Tuesday, is proving to be almost as divisive as Reagan himself. It has drawn both strong reviews from prominent book critics, and sharp criticism from some […]

Positioning the Lake

Jim Sofonia from Traverse City, Michigan, asked, “Can you explain why some lakes are Name Lake, and others are Lake Name ? Examples include Lime Lake and Lake Ann.” Generally, larger lakes tend to have the word lake first: Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Ontario, etc. Show More Summary

Pulled noodles: Uyghur läghmän and Mandarin l?miàn

Some notes on the origins of the words and characters for wheat, flour, and noodles in Turkic and Sinitic languages On the Xinjiang Studies list, a number of questions about noodles and the words for them in Sinitic and other languages have come up. First of all, Sue Naquin called to my attention this article […]

Those X-ing Ys

From Stan Carey: This ambiguity in a tweet from the British prime minister may be of minor interest: I welcome President Obama's pledge to help the Iraqi government tackle this crisis and get aid to those fleeing ISIL terrorists. — David Cameron (@David_Cameron) August 8, 2014 In the unlikely event that the ambiguity is not […]

Does “daresay” have a past?

Q: My dictionary doesn’t have a past tense for “daresay.” Is it “daresaid”? Or “daresayed”? Or perhaps even “daredsay”? I daresay you’ll have an answer. A: We haven’t found any standard dictionaries that list a past tense for “daresay,” a compound verb that means to think very likely or to suppose. In fact, many dictionaries... ? Read More: Does “daresay” have a past?


I happened on a reference to The Golden Age Shtetl: A New History of Jewish Life in East Europe by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern and took advantage of Amazon’s “Sample the beginning of this book for free” offer, and having read the introduction I’m now eager to read the book itself. It’s one of those books — […]

How To Learn And Write The Russian Cyrillic Alphabet In Just A Few Hours

Since Lauren is learning Russian and had started with the Cyrillic alphabet first, we can see how important this is to begin on so that you can boost the rest of your progress. As such, it was great to get this guest post from Dani, who writes at She’ll show you that it isn’t […]

Male and female word usage

In a ten-year-old LLOG post ("Gender and tags" 5/9/2004),  I cited "the complexity of findings about language and gender, where published claims sometimes contradict one another, and where the various things that 'everybody knows' are not always confirmed by experiment", and warned that This happens in every area of rational inquiry, but it's especially common in cases […]

Stet and An Untranslatable Poem.

“To cheer you up in the practice of your profession,” John Cowan sent me a link to Stet, a collection of intemperate responses by authors to publishers who have committed editing outrages, e.g.: In all the proof that has reached me, windrow has been spelled window. If, in the bound book, windrow still appears as […]

Mari šar ‘horsehair’

Words for ‘hair’ and ‘horsehair’ seem to be coming up frequently in my reading. Tonight I came across šar ‘horsehair’, which is attested in central Mari dialects and in the Eastern Mari diaspora (but not, apparently Hill Mari or NW Mari). Show More Summary

Compound semantics

Tank McNamara for 7/31/2014 explores the protean semantics of English complex nominals: And a followup strip explores some other possible sensitivities: Past LLOG posts relevant to the "Redskins" debate: "Fenimore Cooper, call your office",...Show More Summary


Q: Any thoughts why the “.com” in a Web address is referred to as “dot com” and not “period com” or perhaps the more suitable “point com”? A: Our feeling is that “dot” is preferred because it’s snappier than “period” or “point.” It has fewer syllables than “period,” and it’s clearer and more emphatic than... ? Read More: Dot-commentary


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