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What you missed: The best language news/links over the summer

How’s your summer been? I have been (and still am) travelling almost every single day to encourage language learners one-on-one, but I know a lot of you have had your own language projects to keep you busy! Since you may not have been browsing the Internet as often with so much sunshine to soak up, […]

Sanskrit resurgent

When I was studying Buddhism at the University of Washington (Seattle) in 1967-68, there were about ten students in my first-year Sanskrit course for Buddhologists and Indologists.  What intrigued me greatly was that there was another beginning Sanskrit course being offered at the same time.  It had many more students than the class I was […]

"Spastic" and a different kind of "word crime"

Weird Al Yankovic's new song "Word Crimes" has generated a lot of heated discussion among linguists and other descriptivist types who didn't take kindly to its litany of language peeves — satire or no satire. (See my original post and Lauren Squires' guest post for extended discussion.) But in detailing various "word crimes," Weird Al […]

Surf’s up in Rivendell

So you know that whole thing about how the elves in The Lord of the Rings are all, so, we’re getting in our fancy boats and sailing off into the sunset on our exclusive party cruise? Well, they said that’s what they were doing, but I think “west” must be code for “settling down in […]

How to Start Learning a New Language (Right Now. Today. Seriously).

Let me ask you a question: If you really wanted to learn a new language, what would you be doing right now to make that happen? The thing with language learning, and really with any goal or desire we have in life, is that we spend a lot of time thinking about what we want and talking about […]

Word Crimes

For his new album Mandatory Fun, Weird Al Yankovic has crafted the ultimate peever's anthem: "Word Crimes," to the tune of last summer's big hit, "Blurred Lines." It's a cleverly composed parody, despite the inevitable "cunning linguist" joke: I hate these word crimes You really need a Full-time proofreader You dumb mouthbreather Well, you should […]

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 […]

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