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Mind the gap

Our previous post in the Chinglish Annals was "Mind your head " (8/28/15).  As promised, in this post we turn to the other extremity of the body. The following sign is displayed on vessels of the Shanghai Ferry service: Zhùyì g?od? kòngdàng ?????? ("note the level / height of the gap") More often, however, we […]

Discrimination against Arabic in Algeria?

Attention conservation notice: The story below is probably being promoted as a distraction, to keep Algerians talking about language instead of about what happens when a succession crisis combines with a fall in oil prices, in a state almost entirely dependent on oil revenue. Show More Summary

French Songs to Help You Learn French Faster

French is a beautiful language, no doubt about it. But wrapping your head around the liaisons or getting stuck in grammar can make learning French seem like an impossible challenge. Truth is, French is actually not that hard to learn, with the right approach. Show More Summary

Learn Spanish: 30+ Resources for Spanish Reading Practice (Beginner to Intermediate)

With Spanish as your target language, you know how important it is to learn lots of Spanish words and pick up basic grammar. One of the best ways (besides speaking) to learn Spanish words and grammar is to read Spanish. The problem? Textbooks are too basic (or too boring!), while novels are difficult for beginners. Show More Summary

Devilishly difficult "dialect"

Are some languages innately more difficult than others?  In "Difficult languages" (1/2/10), Bill Poser addressed this question from various angles.  I've heard it said that Georgian is incredibly difficult because it possesses an "impossible"...Show More Summary

Spotlighting Australia’s Languages: Tamil

We Australians don't know much about the languages spoken in our own country - so Fully Sic is here to help! Over the coming months, we'll be featuring a series of posts about languages spoken around the country. Today, Niru Perera tells us about Tamil.

What Is the F--kboy?

A good insult requires no elaboration. We feel it before we understand it. That’s why some slurs resonate even when we’re not sure who or what they’re defaming. Consider the strange case of fuckboy, which plays a central role in Nancy...Show More Summary

Sandra Bland: Talking While Black

Below is a guest post by Nicole Holliday, Rachel Burdin, and Joseph Tyler: Sandra Bland’s traffic stop and the tragic series of events that occurred afterwards have been the subject of many recent think pieces, but few authors have examined why the initial traffic stop went wrong in the first place. The most obvious explanation […]

I Uptalk and I Creak. Your Complaints Won’t Change That.

Articles with headlines like “Things Women Do When Speaking That Really Annoy Me” have appeared ad nauseam in recent years on blogs, in newspapers, and even on network newscasts. As if centuries of policing our bodies and our behavior were somehow insufficient, the precise pitch and vibration of our every utterance is now a subject of debate. Show More Summary


This is "Konglish", not "Kongish".  We just finished studying the latter, which is Hong Kong style English, in this post, and surveyed other varieties of Asian English in this post, including Konglish,which is the subject of the present post. Konglish is Korean-style English, and it seems to be thriving. Let's step back a moment to […]

Algerian Arabic in schools? More smoke than fire

Conveniently distracting public attention from the recent assassination attempt on the president's brother and the continuing drop in oil prices, Algeria's Minister of Education, Nouria Benghebrit, has recently provoked a stormy debate by announcing that preschool, 1st grade, and 2nd grade would from now on be taught partly in local dialects. Show More Summary

Listen to Spanish: 50+ Amazing Spanish Listening Resources

I’ve said before that listening is one of my biggest challenges when learning a language. My Speak from Day One approach to learning langauges, means I’m usually stronger at speaking than listening. With that in mind, I’ve collected over 50 resources to help Spanish learners improve their listening skills. Show More Summary

Trump's eloquence

Geoff Pullum uses terms like "aphasia", and phrases like "I don't think there's any structure in there", in describing a quoted passage from Donald Trump's 7/21/2015 speech in Sun City SC. But in my opinion, he's been misled by a notorious problem: the apparent incoherence of much transcribed extemporized speech, even when the same material […]

Assessing Jeb Bush’s Bilingualism

A version of this post appeared on Language Log. Jeb Bush gave a Spanish-language interview on Sunday with Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart. This is the first time since the launch of his presidential campaign that his functional bilingualism...Show More Summary

Jeb's bilingualism

Jeb Bush gave a Spanish-language interview on Sunday with Telemundo's José Díaz-Balart. This is the first time since the launch of his presidential campaign that his functional bilingualism has been on full display. Your browser does not support iframes. So how did he do? Here is the assessment of National Journal's Alexia Fernández Campbell ("How Well […]

Taylor Swift, Waka Flocka, and the Roots of #Squad

In the centuries before automatic weapons, when armies clashed along the Anatolian coast or at the base of medieval castles, foot soldiers fought in square formations. The compact shape repelled enemy forces on horseback, a desperate armor wrought from geometry. Show More Summary

The great creak-off of 1969

In a comment on yesterday's post about Noam Chomsky's use of creaky voice ("And we have a winner…", 7/26/2015), Tara wrote At the risk of sounding like I missed the joke: creakiness in a speaker Chomsky's age is much more likely to be physiological in origin than stylistic. I checked older footage of Chomsky, and […]

A Dry Sense of Humor

Bill from Maple City, Michigan, asked about the use of the word dry in the phrase a dry sense of humor. A dry sense of humor involves delivering a joke as if it were a serious matter. There is no prompt to laugh; the humor sneaks up on you because of the emotionless delivery. Show More Summary

How to Speak Spanish in 4 Days

While you can’t master or reach fluency in a few days, you absolutely can start to speak a language in this time. I famously aim for Day 1 (or even hour one), but experience in doing it so often has given me a big edge. Passing the speaking...Show More Summary

Pinker peace creak

As Breffni noted yesterday in a comment on "Male vocal fry", the young woman introducing Steven Pinker's speech at the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Forum frequently exhibits lots of period-doubling — what the popular press generally calls "vocal fry", though "creaky voice due to period-doubling" would be a more correct description. Show More Summary

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