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The Earliest Known Abecedary.

I had meant to post this a while back, but it got lost in the shuffle: A flake of limestone (ostracon) inscribed with an ancient Egyptian word list of the fifteenth century BC turns out to be the world’s oldest known abecedary. The words have been arranged according to their initial sounds, and the order […]

Learning a New Language: Secrets of Language Learning Pros

What’s the best way to learn a new language? A really good way to approach language hacking is to look at how other people learn - especially how successful language learners pick up a new language and approach the challenges of language...Show More Summary

Mea culpae? Meae culpae? Meis culpis? Mea culpas?

The following is a guest post by frequent LLOG commenter J.W. Brewer: Someone forwarded me a link by a distinguished emeritus professor (I recognize the name, think I once saw him speak at a conference, have the impression his scholarly work is generally well-regarded by people whose judgment I trust) writing about current campus turmoil, […]

That should work well

I made a phonetic first verse & chorus of the Marseillaise for singers at #EngvFra — India Knight (@indiaknight) November 17, 2015

Technical Sauna at Buddy Hair

Another intriguing sign from Nagoya, Japan sent in by Nathan Hopson: Since this is all in English (except for the straightforward heading of the price list), there's no need to explain any translation gaffes. I simply want to call attention to several unusual usages in the English: 1. Technical Sauna.  At first I thought that […]

Mind your manners at the urinal, won't you?

Nathan Hopson sent in this photo of a sign that is posted above the urinals at the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, the #2 shrine in Japan's Shinto hierarchy: The sign reads: sh?uhù l?yí ba bùyào b? k?uxi?ngtáng r?ng dào xi?obiànqì nèi ????? ?????? ?????? guard / protect / defend etiquette / decorum / ceremony / […]

Clogged drains and "Uncle Hanzi"

I spotted this photograph in an article that I'll describe below: Before I introduce the article, during the course of which I'll identify the gentleman in the photograph, it is incumbent upon me to explain what all that red and black writing on the wall is about.  Here's what it says: t?ng xiàshu? d?y?n ????? […]

AN News: “Linguistic and Local Peripherality: The Case of Chalmatians in Greater New Orleans” by Katie Carmichael (Virginia Tech)

Anthropology News Article In Greater New Orleans, there is an enregistered (Agha 2003) dialect of English that sounds similar to New York City English, making it stand out within the linguistic landscape of the American South. This dialect is associated with the white, working class residents of New Orleans, and is imbued with the sorts […]

Crowdsourcing Scholarship.

I was quite excited to see this Jordan Center post by Eliot Borenstein, in which he discusses blogging his new book: I started my academic career planning a dissertation and book about my favorite Russian author, Yuri Olesha. Depending on whom you ask, Olesha was either a talented novelist and playwright driven by Stalinism to […]

Faustrecht: German word meaning “law of the fist” or “law by force.” In French, perhaps “droit du poing.”

Faustrecht: German word meaning “law of the fist” or “law by force.” In French, perhaps “droit du poing.” Faustrecht: German word meaning "law of the fist" or "law by force." In French, perhaps "droit du poing." — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) November 17, 2015

This Year's Word of the Year Isn't Even a Word ??????

The Oxford Dictionaries “Word” of the Year 2015 has landed. It’s ?, a.k.a. Face with Tears of Joy, already weeping with relief at its victory. (I suppose we asked for this.) Casper Grathwohl, president of Oxford Dictionaries, explains...Show More Summary

The shawm and its eastern cousins

I have long been intrigued by the Chinese instrument called su?nà ?? (double-reeded horn).  Because of the sound and shape of the name, and the fact that the characters used to write it both have mouth radicals, indicating that they are being used to convey pronunciation rather than meaning, I have always suspected that su?nà […]

WOTY 2015

According to a press release sent out earlier today, Today Oxford Dictionaries announces the emoji, commonly known as “Face with Tears of Joy,” as its “Word” of the Year for 2015. They explain that This year Oxford University Press partnered with leading mobile technology business SwiftKey to explore frequency and usage statistics for some of […]

By the way, I wrote a book instead of doing my annual words-of-the-year list. #nowoty

By the way, I wrote a book instead of doing my annual words-of-the-year list. #nowoty By the way, I wrote a book instead of doing my annual words-of-the-year list. #nowoty — Grant Barrett (@GrantBarrett) November 16, 2015

Sauce or Gravy? The Secret, Fervent Debate at the Heart of the Italian American Spaghetti Dinner.

“The Italians of my parents’ generation are held together by the notion of the family,” wrote Martin Scorsese in his introduction to Italianamerican: The Scorsese Family Cookbook. “That is why the pasta sauce is so sacred to the Italian family.” See, now right away we have a problem. Show More Summary

Is the “s” in “pants” out of style?

Q: I’ve been waging a losing battle over the creeping use of “pant” vs. “pants.” As far as I’m concerned, “pant” is what a dog does on a hot day, not something I’d wear. If you feel I’m a cranky, persnickety nitpicker and should just start wearing skirts, I’ll abide by your ruling. A: Keep... ? Read More: Is the “s” in “pants” out of style?

Cloud Conversations

David Donnell writes: My initial thought was that there was a climate-related "cloud conversation" that the French were oppposing — Michele Kelemen, "Paris Attacks Cloud Conversation At Summit Of World Powers", NPR 11/15/2015.  

Bananals in Bristol.

Back in 2009 I posted excerpts from the Wikipedia article on West Country dialects, including this: In the Bristol area, a terminal “a” (realised as [aw], c.f. Albert as “Awbert”, cinema as “cinemaw”) is often perceived to be followed by an intrusive “l”. Hence the old joke about the three Bristolian sisters Evil, Idle and […]

Pronouncing "Daesh"

In the comments on yesterday's post, the question arose about how the  Arabic-based acronym "Daesh" (from al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham, "the islamic state of Iraq and the Levant", maybe better rendered as "Da’ish") would be pronounced in English. We now know what Barack Obama's choice is — [dæ?], as in "dash": Turkey's been a […]

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