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Language Log tracks down the old "Grin and Bear It" cartoon that Chief Justice Roberts quoted Justice Frankfurter misquoting.

I mentioned this in my earlier post on the Obamacare case:In a sly reference to Nancy Pelosi's "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," Chief Justice Roberts quotes an old Felix Frankfurter article — "Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, "47 Colum. Show More Summary

Ask Language Log: -ange < ?

From Bob Ladd: I just drove through the general area of Luxembourg/Lorraine – one of the places where French and Germanic have been in close contact since the Middle Ages – and could couldn't help noticing dozens of place names ending in -ange (Dudelange, Hettange, Differdange, Hayange, Hagondange, Aubange, Redange, Useldange, and many more) all […]

Ask Language Log: Iowa mystery image

David Donnell: A friend in Ames, Iowa, sent me this photo of a small framed picture she purchased at a garage sale in her town. She is curious what the language is, and what it says…in English. She added, “I got the impression from the other items at this woman's sale that she had done […]

Ask Language Log: bingeing, cringeing

Heath Mayhew writes: The other day, one of my friends asked how to spell bingeing. Quickly,  we all chimed in that it clearly couldn't be "binging". I didn't believe their conviction, so we looked it up in American Heritage 3rd and I lost. Below is a list of words we discovered to retain the "e" […]

Eighteenth-century European sources for some Chinese proverbs

Jan Söhlke was intrigued by the issue of fake Chinese proverbs that had come up in some recent Language Log posts. That reminded him of the time when he was preparing his MA Thesis he stumbled across an unusual selection of Chinese proverbs. His thesis is on Wilhelm Raabe's novel Das Odfeld.  As a motto […]

Mystery message

Email from Diego Viana: I am a Brazilian journalist and reader of the Language Log blog. I'm writing to you because the blog came immediately to my mind when a friend showed me a piece of paper she found in a recently bought jacket. It's written in an alphabet we don't know and, obviously, the […]

IDGI: Pre-Natal Wifi?

So far the Language Log folks at UPenn have not found an explanation for why the pregnant lady graphic on this Korean train priority seating plaque has wifi. Though I wouldn't be surprised if Korean signmakers expect every fetus to be taking in utero cram courses to prep for their preschool exams. Pre-Natal Wi-Fi [languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu]

Jackie Chan Campus Station

As Language Log readers are well aware, Jackie Chan recently became super famous for the amazing bounciness of his hair and the mystical syllable he proclaimed in self-admiration: "Duang " (3/1/15) and "More on 'duang'"  (3/19). Now we find that he has a bus stop named after him: Computerized translation fail at Sichuan Normal University campus bus stop […]

Ask Language Log: hippocampus

Via Jason Schrock on Twitter… Hey @LanguageLog check it out pic.twitter.com/Hxh1ngD55y — jason (@jason_schrock) April 2, 2015 h?im? ?? ("seahorse") So where does the "Hippocampus" on the pictured language learning card come from? That's the scientific genus name for what is commonly known as the "seahorse". It derives from Greek hippos ("horse") and kampos ("sea […]

Awesome foods

Felix Sadeli sent in this list of colossal mistranslations of food names. We've already seen several of these and explained a number of them on Language Log: "Puke " (10/8/10) "Gourmet Chinese cookshop " (1/27/14) — "Soup for Sluts" (in the comments) "Combating the monolithic tree mushroom stem squid " (5/3/10) ("The jew's ear Juice" — […]

John McWhorter responds

Some clarifications about my Wall Street Journal article, which seems to have led to some misunderstandings among Language Log’s readers (as well as over at Languagehat). Since the readers here are the most well-informed audience that piece will ever reach outside of professional linguists, I thought it’d be useful to clarify what I based the […]

Simplification Isn’t Simple.

Victor Mair has a post at the Log about John McWhorter’s Wall Street Journal article “What the World Will Speak in 2115: A century from now, expect fewer but simpler languages on every continent.” After a fair amount of chitchat, the thread gets quite interesting; I agree with the commenters who say that no matter […]

Happy Birthday in Biaviian?

As a mid-week diversion, let us put this to you. Language Log has been contacted by a producer for the Howard Stern show to provide an expert opinion on a purported song of alien provenance. Here's a recording: What you are hearing is another Sirius XM radio host, Riley Martin, performing what he says is […]

Obama and I, Me, My, You, We, Our

Mark Liberman at Language Log tries to set the record straight -- yet again: Presidential pronouns: This time it's Ron Fournier: Ron Fournier, "Is Obama More Interested in Progress or Politics?", National Journal, 1/20/2015: Count how many times Obama uses...

Travel Language

There is an interesting post on Language Log about the following image.

More bon voyage

Perry C. writes: I hope you've been well. I am an active reader of language log and often notice posts that point to odd phrases. On my way back to Penn, jetblue had a sign at LAX that read "have a more bon voyage." I'm not sure of the meaning that the sign (attached below) […]

Missing woman remains found

From the Hackney Gazette: In some other place and time, perhaps there was a headline "Missing moonshine still discovered". h/t Anton Cox, who wrote: Although I am a big fan of Language Log, I may be too much of a Brit to get much from most of the crash-blossom posts (I never read them the […]

That "moisture dripping wet feeling"

I'm pretty sure this will push some wet buttons among Language Log readers and authors.  Kira Simon-Kennedy found this stellar specimen of Chinglish in a press release from the China-sponsored section of the LA Art Show. The whole thing is pretty lackluster (what else to expect from State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and […]

Since the beginning of history

I have mentioned chinaSMACK before on Language Log, but have never featured it so directly as in this post.  The reason is that this time there's an interesting language aspect to one of their articles that is hard to pass up. chinaSMACK specializes in translating trenchant, amazing stories from the vast amount of traffic that […]

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