All Blogs / Academics / Linguistics / Popular

Get More Specific:

Writing moxibustion is a bust

[This is a guest post by David Moser] I took a group of my students, who are studying the Chinese medical system, to a y?ngsh?nggu?n ??? [VHM: "health center / club" — centered on TCM = Traditional Chinese Medicine], which are very common in Beijing.  I wanted them to see and experience firsthand the kinds […]

Everything, everything

At a Semantics Workshop in the Rutgers Philosophy Department last weekend, my job was to comment on an excellent paper by Alex Lascarides & Julian Schlöder, "Understanding Focus: Tune, Placement, and Coherence". Here's the opening section of my presentation: We modulate our linguistic performances in many ways, expressing our state of mind and our attitudes towards the […]

Extreme measures

Robin Andrews, "Female Dragonflies Fake Their Deaths To Avoid Annoying Males", IFL Science 4/28/2017: So, you’re in a bar, or on a bus, or grabbing a coffee, something like that – and that guy that kept grinning at you like a deranged werewolf decides to saunter on over, say hello, and strike up a highly unwanted […]

Veggies for cats and dogs

From Tim Leonard, who remarks, "real-time video translation at its best": The Japanese in the background reads: inu / neko no taberu nama yasai ?????????? ("raw vegetables / greens for dogs and cats to eat") nama ? ("raw) >  shinsen ?? ("fresh") You can see for yourself what the English translation is. [Thanks to Nathan […]

CEFR Levels: What They Are, Why They Matter, and How to Test Yourself

CEFR levels: what are they? And do they matter? In the language-learning community, we often hear other learners throw around certain terms when they’re talking about their level in a language. “I speak German at a B1 level” or “I’mShow More Summary

La Patisserie.

This story, which Anatoly (from whose post I translate it) calls “somehow very Israeli,” brightened this gray morning for me, and I hope it will amuse you, however your day may be going: A couple of years ago an amazing bakery appeared in our city. It was opened by a Frenchman who had flown here […]

How ‘master’ became ‘mister’

Q: I wonder how “master” became “mister,” and why “master” refers to a young man, and “mister” to an older man. Can you enlighten me? A: We discussed the origin of “master” on the blog in 2015, but we’ll summarize it here to set the stage for the appearance of “mister” and the evolution of... ? Read More: How ‘master’ became ‘mister’


I know there’s no such word as candidity, but I like the sound of it. A listener asked about the word candor. It now means openness, frankness, and outspokenness. Originally (14 th c.), it meant brilliant whiteness. That’s no surprise, since it came from a Latin word that meant whiteness. Show More Summary

Wharf Quay Pier Jetty.

I found this diagram posted on Facebook; it’s a simple 2X2 according to which a wharf is built on piles and parallel to the shore, a quay is built on fill and ditto, a pier is built on piles and extending out from the shore, and a jetty is built on fill and ditto. Does […]

Wade-Giles Romanization and Chinese food

From Clarissa Wei, "The Struggles of Writing About Chinese Food as a Chinese Person", Munchies (4/24/17) I hold myself to high standards when it comes to writing about Chinese food, yet I live in a world that can be quite insensitive in their approach to the cuisine. For example, many writers (especially on the East […]

More Deep Translation arcana

At Riddled, sometime LLOG commenter Smut Clyde has posted an impressive series of Goofle Translate experiments. You can read them at the links below — I've added locally-stored images, based on previous experience with bit rot as well as recent advice from James Angleton. "Mayor Snorkum will lay the cake" [Snorkum1] "Reveal to me the […]

Because of course (NOT) PRO BE|DO

Ordan Buckley asked: I'm curious if you have any thoughts on the slangy headline trend "X because of course X". Some examples: World's largest Lamborghini dealer is in Dubai, because of course it is Rob Gronkowski crashes Sean Spicer's briefing because of course he did Seattle just broke a 122-year-old record for rain — because […]

Chekhov–Saunders Humanity Kit.

The Chekhov–Saunders Humanity Kit (assembled by Maria Bustillos) is a remarkable thing, a website representing George Saunders’s MFA classes at Syracuse, and specifically the Chekhov “About Love” trilogy – “usually the best class of the year.” The linked page is the intro: I’ve wrestled with how to write about the resulting experience in a way […]

Luv u

My wife had an aversion to the first person pronoun.  She would do practically anything to avoid saying "I".  She thought it was egotistical to make frequent, direct reference to herself, whether in speech or in writing.  Among traditional Chinese, she probably was not entirely unique in that regard, but she was extreme in her […]

Your gigantic crocodile!

One more piece of Google Translate poetry, contributed by Mackenzie Morris: I've been collecting screenshots of the best of these, because I'm assuming that soon, someone at Google will notice the hilarity and take the trivial steps required to stop it. It's easy to distinguish keyboard banging or nonsensical repetitions from sincere input — unless […]

With Interjected Finger.

My wife, after reading me numerous bits from Ford Madox Ford’s memoir Memories and Impressions: A Study in Atmospheres, told me I had to read it myself, and so I am doing, with immense pleasure (reading her in turn numerous bits, sometimes the same bits she had previously read to me). The following passage, from […]

Another thing (or think?) coming

Q: Which is correct: “If you think that, you have another thing/think coming”? I see “thing” more often, but “think” makes more sense to me. A: The two expressions, which are used to express disagreement, showed up in print within a couple of months of each other in the late 19th century. The editors at... ? Read More: Another thing (or think?) coming

New Mission: One Month Without English!

Have you ever reached a plateau in your language learning that you just couldn’t break through? I did. It didn’t matter how many German lessons I took. How many Skype calls I made. Or, how many grammar books I read. I just couldn’t get...Show More Summary

Copyright © 2015 Regator, LLC