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BBC Pidgin Language Service.

Monica Mark reports: On Monday, BBC World Service launched a Pidgin service, unveiling a website and radio bulletins that will run entirely in the lingua franca spoken across West Africa. It’s the BBC’s biggest expansion in 40 years, and means the broadcaster will join the ranks of local stations that already reach audiences of millions […]

What's wrong with the obvious analysis of waš bih ??? ????

In the Algerian Arabic dialect I grew up speaking, "what's wrong with him?" is waš bi-h? ??? ???. (Further west, in Oran and in Morocco, it's the more classical sounding ma-leh? ?? ??.) When the object is a pronoun, as it usually is,...Show More Summary

Chow mein from a can ? ch?omiàn / caau2min6 from a wok

The theme of today's post:  MSM ch?omiàn / Cant. caau2min6  trad. ?? / simpl. ?? ("fried noodles"). When I was a wee lad growing up in East Canton (formerly Osnaburg; population about a thousand), Ohio, all that I knew of Chinese food came out of cans, and it was branded either as La Choy or […]

The Making of “Make It New.”

Michael North does a splendid historical investigation at Guernica of Ezra Pound’s famous slogan; as I said at MetaFilter, where I got the link: At first I thought smugly “Ha, I’m an old Poundian, I know where he got it,” but it turned out I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did […]

Dead Languages: How (and Why) to Learn a Dead Language

What is your “why” for learning a new language? Maybe it’s because you want to feel a greater connection with people around the world. To have improved travel experiences or immerse yourself in a different culture different from your...Show More Summary

“Valet”: VA-lay, VA-let, va-LAY?

Q: It’s recently come to my attention that “valet” should rhyme with “mallet.” The problem is, I don’t know anyone who has this pronunciation. So how does one to ask for “valet parking” properly without seeming like a contemptible snoot? A: It’s hard to mispronounce the noun “valet.” We’ve checked nine standard dictionaries and found... Show More Summary

Collops and Fíbíns.

Manchán Magan writes about “the lost language of Ireland’s landscape”: Do you understand the sentence: the banbh was hiding out in the clochán from the brothall? Or how about: I took the boreen over the bawn and down the congár through the cluain beyond the esker to fetch some dillisk on the cladach. The language […]

'Difficult to understate' correction

Here the source of the inversion corrects it within a few minutes: overstate, sorry, I always mix that up — Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) August 19, 2017 For discussion see "'Cannot underestimate' = 'must not underestimate'?", 11/6/2008...Show More Summary

The sociolinguistics of the Chinese script

Jonathan Benda posted this on Facebook recently: Reading [Jan Blommaert's] _Language and Superdiversity_ in preparation for my Writing in Global Contexts course in the fall. Does anyone else think the following conclusions about this sign are somewhat wrongheaded? Written with a calligraphic flair, the notice says: g?ngyù ch?z? shèbèi y?liú shu?diàn quán b?o m?i yuè […]

Ask Language Log: How to pronounce "Antifa"?

From P.D.: Long time reader, first time caller, etc. etc. As an armchair linguistics fan and someone who gets his news primarily online rather than from cable news, I've been wondering how one ought to go about pronouncing the word "antifa." I'd like to discuss current events with friends without putting my foot in it, […]

The Imperious Criterion of Meaning

Patrick Radden Keefe, "Carl Icahn's Failed Raid on Washingon", The New Yorker 8/28/2017, mentions the title of Icahn's Princeton senior thesis: In 1960, after studying philosophy at Princeton (where he wrote a thesis titled “The Problem of Formulating an Adequate Explication of the Empiricist Criterion of Meaning”) and a stint in medical school (he was […]

The power and the lactulose

The so-called Free Speech Rally that's about to start in Boston will probably be better attended, both by supporters and opponents, than the one that was organized by same group back in May. But some of the featured speakers at the May rally, including "Augustus Invictus", have decided not to attend today's rerun. So I […]

Blind Pig

Pat from Elk Rapids asked about the establishment known as a blind pig. It was known as a blind tiger in the south, and it was also referred to as a hole in the wall elsewhere. The whole thing was a ruse to sell alcohol illegally. There actually was no animal involved, maimed or not. Show More Summary

Pomyalovsky‘s Molotov.

A couple of months ago I reported on Nikolai Pomyalovsky’s ????????? ??????? [Bourgeois happiness]; now I’m on the sequel, ??????? [Molotov]. Forewarned by my earlier experience, I decided to post about this one before it went off the rails; now, halfway through, the plot is about to kick in (a father is going to force […]

Learning languages is so much easier now

If you use the right tools, that is, as explained in this Twitter thread from Taylor ("Languge") Jones. Rule number 1:  Use all the electronic tools at your disposal. Rule number 2:  Do not use paper dictionaries. Jones' Tweetstorm started when he was trying to figure out the the meaning of sh?ngch?ng ?? in Chinese.  […]

Reduplicated Compounds in Turkish?

Bruce Allen writes: Oedipus Schmoedipus — so long as he loves his mother. Years and years ago, I had a professor of Greek who said that this particular kind of reduplicated rhyming compound (schm-) originated not in Yiddish, but in Turkish. I don’t find anything to substantiate this and he died years ago, but I […]

Dispatch with, dispense from, dispel with, …

The Washington Post's digital front page a little while ago told us that Donald Trump has given in to those who wanted him to "dispatch with" Stephen Bannon: Last Friday, Mitt Romney's Facebook post explained that he would "dispense from" discussion of certain aspects of Trump's comments on the Charlottesville events: And in February of 2016, […]

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