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How to travel the world for life (and work while you travel)

In the 21st century travelling the world for cheap is more than possible. In this post I summarized everything you need to know about finding affordable flight tickets, accomodation, working abroad and enjoying life to the max. Click here to....

Zahir on Lushootseed.

A correspondent writes: “Here are a couple of videos from a guy I’m a big fan of, Zeke Zahir, a speaker of Puget Sound Salish (Lushootseed).” The first is a thirteen-minute talk by Zahir (his father was from Afghanistan) about how he came to learn Lushootseed (x??lšucid) and discussions he had with Vi Hilbert (taq?š?blu), […]

Introducing: Speak in a week free crash course (+ hundreds of inspirational speak-on-day-1 videos)

Time for a big and really cool announcement! Yesterday, HUNDREDS of people started a new language project and posted a video of themselves speaking their new language on day 1. Why? Because I just created a (completely free) video course on how to start a new language from scratch and have a conversation within a week. […]

From Figuig to Igli: Berber in the Algerian-Morocco borderland

The number of good Berber descriptive dictionaries has been slowly but steadily increasing in recent years, but Hassane Benamara's new Dictionnaire amazigh-français : Parler de Figuig et ses régions (Rabat: IRCAM, 2013), which I was lucky enough to be lent a copy of lately, is surely one of the best. Show More Summary

6 biggest lessons from learning to speak my first non-native language [Final video] Time for the final update on Lauren’ss 6-week-challenge! She successfully completed her mission, and was able to socialize, make new friends, and have fun in Esperanto. You can see it all happen in the above video. I’ll hand the blog over to her, to share her thoughts: The 6 biggest lessons from learning to […]

Real fry

You'll search Google News in vain for stories about most technical terms in phonetics — no recent coverage of lenition, for example — but "vocal fry" has been prominent in the popular press for several years. Despite all the coverage, many people seem to be unclear about what it is and where it comes from […]

A Blast (of Steam) from the Past.

One of the books I’m reading very slowly, a bit at a time (usually at bedtime), is Yuri Fedosyuk’s ??? ????????? ? ?????????, ??? ???????????? ???????? ???? XIX ???? [What we don't understand in the classics, or An encyclopedia of Russian daily life in the nineteenth century] (see LH posts from 2004 and 2013), and […]

New vocal fry culprit

Jen Olenizcak, "Are Spanx Causing Vocal Fry?", Huffington Post 6/17/2014: New Yorkers are incredibly tense. Articles have been written about our anxiety issues — most adults are incredibly tense. And the butt tension! I hear so many pinched, throaty Kardashian voices, and when lamenting about the correlation I saw between this body image pulling-it-all-in problem […]

Football vs. Soccer.

As an American, I think I’m fairly typical in not paying much attention to soccer except when the World Cup comes around every four years, at which point I root mainly for Argentina, where I went to high school — I’m pleased, of course, when the U.S. wins, but in men’s soccer they have little […]

Lauren’s Esperanto project: Week 5 on Skype

We are now just a few days away from the Polyglot Conference that marks the end of Lauren's 6-week project to learn Esperanto, and she'll get a chance to use it to make new friends! Because of that, rather than throw her in the deepShow More Summary


If you’ve ever wanted to see how exactly a voiced bilabial plosive is formed, or watch as people from all over the English-speaking world say “real,” this site is for you. (Via MetaFilter.)

Translating Frozen Into Arabic.

Elias Muhanna, an assistant professor of comparative literature at Brown University, has an excellent New Yorker blog post about just what the title says: One of the forty-one languages in which you can watch “Frozen” is Modern Standard Arabic. This is a departure from precedent. Earlier Disney films (from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” […]


Gwen from Lake Ann, Michigan, called in to ask if the term redneck was due to the red clay prevalent in Georgia. It seems to me that redhand would have been the designated term if digging in the dirt had been the cause. The most likely reason for the nickname is the sunburned neck of a farmer working in hot climates. Show More Summary

Bongo Bongo.

An e-mail from a PR guy informed me of a PBS video series of definite LH interest: “Bongo Bongo” is a new series from PBS Digital Studios that brings to life the dynamic meaning of common words in the English language by examining them through the lenses of history, linguistics, and pop culture. Each week’s […]

Benny & Lauren’s plane, train & automobile travels: Week 3 of Esperanto learning This last week was a pretty crazy one! We left Ireland by driving to the ferry port, getting a ferry (with the car) across to Wales, driving to Manchester, flying from Manchester to Cherleroi, getting a train to Brussels, and then on to Bruges, and finally in AMSTERDAM. Show More Summary

Sleep Like Death, Death Like Sleep

The boys, the wife and I watched the latest episode of the rebooted Cosmos last night. About 10 minutes in, Neil deGrasse Tyson began talking about the idea that life on Earth may have begun by arriving on meteorites. It’s known that rocks from Mars, for example, have ended up on Earth this way. It’s […]

My girlfriend learns Esperanto: Week 2 update and spontaneous conversation! [video]

Time for another progress update on the makings of a new polyglot... from scratch! We are recording literally every single second of language learning and use of the language, so the greatest realizations can be caught on camera. The...Show More Summary

How to create a realistic timeline for your next language project (Why 3 months?)

As I continue on the book tour, I have been getting asked many questions face-to-face with people, many of which remind me of things that I can talk about on the blog more. One of the biggest ones by far is Why 3 months? You see it in...Show More Summary

Week 1 of a monoglot’s first language learning journey (Benny coaches his girlfriend to learn Esperanto)

I have had many language learning projects myself, but this one is the first one that I get to document of another person. Lauren, my girlfriend, had the great idea that we should have the camera rolling every single second that sheShow More Summary

Tasty Chinese

Jen Cardelús writes: I live in a primarily Chinese community in the San Gabriel Valley (near LA) and don't yet speak any Chinese.  I've been wonderfully bemused by the restaurant naming conventions in the area, and was wondering if you have any insight into how Chinese people name restaurants, and what (if any) particular words […]

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