Cynthia asked about the varied meanings of the word habit. Ultimately, it came from a Latin verb that meant to have. There was a bifurcation of the base word in ancient Latin. One branch focused on the external features of having and exhibiting: posture, demeanor, clothing, etc. Show More Summary
Shout-out to the company whose email said their site is now mobile-ready but did not mention what business they’re in. Hope it’s burritos. Shout-out to the company whose email said their site is now mobile-ready but did not mention what business they're in. Show More Summary
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This is quick and simple, but it suddenly piqued my curiosity: e-mails announcing editing jobs from a particular provider routinely begin “The below job has been assigned to you…” That sounds weird to me, although “the above” is perfectly normal. Is it a dialect thing, or is it just my personal quirk?
Beatrice Santorini's Linguistic Humor page has a good collection of sayings attributed to Yogi Berra (1925-2015). Maybe the most relevant one today is "Always go to other people's funerals, otherwise they won't come to yours". I won't be able to attend Yogi's funeral, but I'll link to his NYT obituary.
Q: I recently came across this headline online: “Here’s What Happens When You Color Instead of Watch TV for a Week.” I thought we have to use a gerund (“watching”) after the preposition “of.” Isn’t there something wrong here? A: Cortney Clift’s article about the adult coloring-book trend, published on the website Brit + Co,... ? Read More: Instead of … what?
Several people have sent this in: "Scots 'have 421 words' for snow", BBC News 9/23/2015: Academics have officially logged 421 terms – including "snaw" (snow), "sneesl" (to begin to rain or snow) and "skelf" (a large snowflake). The study by the University of Glasgow is part of a project to compile the first Historical Thesaurus […]
John Wells wrote to ask:Have you discussed BrE playing the piano/violin vs. AmE playing piano/violin?Not really, John, and it turns out that it's one of those things that's (all together now!) more complicated than you might think! The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) has 689 play the piano to 309 play piano. Show More Summary
From Bruce Balden: The link below (dated 1/29/15) concerns apparently incomprehensible behavior on the part of the father of a young Japanese man taken hostage and killed by ISIS recently. The link contains the key phrase "for lack of a better translation", but I wonder how hard they tried to translate it. I'd be interested […]
There’s probably nothing in John McWhorter’s Atlantic piece “Where Do Languages Go to Die?” that will surprise any LH reader familiar at all with Aramaic, but McWhorter is always an enjoyable writer, and he opens with the piquant image of “a Middle Eastern man from 2,500 years ago” visiting our world and being amazed by […]
pizza rat took my bae pizza rat took my bae — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) September 22, 2015 http://twitter.com/GrantBarrett/status/646366179477581824
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the hiring manager of the nonprofit that posted a job opening for a social media person. Condolences. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the hiring manager of the nonprofit that posted a job opening for a social media person. Condolences. — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) September 22, 2015 […]
It’s no secret that I don’t drink. But clinking glasses with friends and toasting other people is about so much more than alcohol, and it feels appropriate to bring this up as Oktoberfest just started last weekend. Giving a toast is a cultural experience. Show More Summary
Last month, the hockey star Patrick Kane was accused of rape, and investigations of the matter continue. Last week, he joined the Chicago Blackhawk's training camp, and at a press event organized by the team, he read a statement that addressed the accusations as follows: While I have too much respect for the legal process […]
Depending on your attitude to Chinglish, it is getting better / worse all the time. The latest batch I received comes from a Weixin (WeChat) site named "Sì dà f?míng ????" (translation: "Four Great Inventions", though they simultaneously treat that as a transcription: "Star Farming"). Show More Summary
Eduardo Avila reports for PRI on a heartening success story for one of the better-known Native American languages: From the printing press and the typewriter to today’s readily available digital technologies like computers and smart phones, the Cherokee language is fully functional thanks to the help of tireless advocates and activists. As one of the […]
Earlier today, BBC News posted this article: "Chinese Obama speaks 'fake' English" (9/21/15) Embedded at the top of the article is this video in which actor Xiao Jiguo displays his talents at impersonating Obama: Here's the entire text of the brief article: A Chinese man who has made his name as a professional impersonator of […]
In most of the Arabic dialects of the Algerian Sahara that I've encountered, Berber influence is rather inconspicuous. Loanwords exist, of course, but they are so well adapted to Arabic structure that they tend to be difficult to spot; who would guess, for instance, that š?r?šmala "skink" came from Zenati Berber a-s?rm-šal (cf. Show More Summary
Q: Yale is in an uproar about the use of “master” for the head of a residential college, given the term’s historical ties with slavery. I wonder what you usage experts think of this. If you defend the usage, the PC/Language Police will jump all over your insensitivities. A: We’ll try to be sensitive as... ? Read More: Master piece
[Warning: little direct linguistic content.] Apple's decision to allow ad-blocking in iOS-9 (Eric Griffith, "Apple iOS 9 Ad-Blocking Explained (And Why It's a Bad Move)", PC Magazine 6/11/2015) has caused a recent flutter of stories as iOS-9 has been rolled out. A few examples: Katie Benner & Sydney Ember, "Enabling of Ad Blocking in Apple’s iOS 9 Prompts Backlash", […]