What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of certain languages? I'm most interested in English and French but if you have knowledge of another that would also be fascinating! [more inside]
I've said and written 'spicket' my entire life and only this morning discovered it was non-standard. Some dictionaries give a cursory redirect to 'spigot'; some don't even list the 'ck' variant. The apparent root of 'spigot' [Latin spica] would seem to obviate this discussion, but the change from /k/ to /g/ had taken place at least by 1590 (both forms co-existed for a while). When did 'spicket' become non-standard, and why has that /k/ persisted to the present day? [more inside]
Is there any sort of dictionary or text corpora that outline which of a number of synonyms are the most universally understood by other language speakers or the least colloquial? [more inside]
I'm looking for my cousin, who would like to come here for 2 months or so and study English. I was hoping to find a program that would put her with a family here (I don't really have the space or lifestyle for it). And of course, I need the program to be reputable and safe :) I imagine this sort of thing HAS to exist. Do you know of one?
Walking 'abreast' means walking side-by-side. What equivalent word means walking single-file? [more inside]
When did people start saying "a training" to mean "a training session/workshop/meeting/program/etc"? What dialect of English did training-as-a-noun originate in? How did it spread?
Bemused: I do not think it means what you think it means. So what word does? [more inside]
Sometimes, on restaurant menus or in other media that I'm not recalling at the moment, the text styling will reflect the meaning of the word. Examples off the top of my head: sizzling, hot, chilly. Here's an example in an advertisement. What would you call this phenomenon? The most apt description I can come up with is visual onomatopoeia, but is there a better word for this?
Lately I've started noticing the construction "or no" in places where I would have expected "or not". [more inside]
What is the difference in English between  "The flowers are white" and  "The flowers are white in colour"? Scientific texts (such as botanical descriptions) seem to prefer  and add "in colour" after the colour name though it is redundant. Form  wins the Google fight by a large margin and the Ngram for "white in color" shows a downward trend since the 1920s. Is it now OK to drop the "in colour" in contemporary (scientific) texts?
In the past, I've seen that sometimes English is interspersed with another language on certain websites. This site, however, has English titles to their posts, but most everything else is in Dutch. Why? [more inside]
I'd like to read stories in English with my daughter. [more inside]
In other words, I'm looking for a list of adjectives that could complete the sentence "I am feeling __." This is actually a fairly extensive group of adjectives, and I'm wondering whether this type of adjective is identified formally as a certain type of adjective (which would make it easier to find the set) or whether anyone has assembled such a list.
I need a book on the different varieties of English, their spellings, grammar and punctuation and some info on vocabulary differences, too. But I'm having trouble finding one. [more inside]
Something that often frustrates me reading the newspaper or stories on the internet is that a majority of the "current serious issues" things are going to come from Western English-speaking countries. Can you recommend websites that provide English news about fairly non-English countries? (From my Australian perspective these include anywhere in Africa, Russia, India, Eastern Europe, so on.)
I'm reaching for a phrase for a short science fiction piece I'm working on. I'd like to know what a Classical-Latin-speaking character would say if they wanted to articulate a particular concept analogous to "I think therefore I am", but expressing instead a monstrous moral conclusion they've reached along the lines of I think therefore none may be / shall be. [more inside]
I would write "1950s" or "1980s", and this is universal among native English speakers, so far as I am aware. In international contexts, however, I sometimes observe that people whose English spelling is otherwise flawless will consistently write "1950ies" or "1980ies", which reads to me like it has an extra syllable. Where does this convention come from, and what linguistic background makes it sound like a reasonable way to contract these numbers? [more inside]
Can anyone recommend a beginner level English language tutorial series for Spanish speakers who cannot read or write in either language?
Is there a word for "one word", like monosyllabic means "one syllable"?
Looking for movie recommendations that feature French scenes, spoken French is good too. [more inside]
What are some examples of really easy/obvious etymological descents that most people aren't really aware of? I'm trying to prove to somebody that there are a lot of these in the english language but I've forgotten most of the interesting ones I used to know. [more inside]
What percentage of English words have three syllables?
Is there a term for a seer/diviner/oracle that is only able to see into the past? I'm willing to grab one from a non-English language if there is a word that means specifically "a seer who can only see the past", but English is prefered. Antiquated terms are OK. Bonus points for interesting etymological details (or links to interesting etymological details). [more inside]
I'm fascinated by the efforts of Deutsche Bahn to get rid of the "Bahnglisch" that litters the service with expressions that look English but aren't the sort of expressions that any native speaker of English would actually use, and it occurred to me that this sort of thing is common in German outside of DB, and probably all over the world. [more inside]
Hi. I'm a Portuguese student and I'm going to spend two weeks of my summer vacations on Leeds, England since I have an aunt there that invited me. I would like to spend my time practicing my English but I don't know what to do or where to go. Where can I meet new people (of my age range preferably: 20's), have a good conversation, listen to other people talk, ...? Your help will be much appreciated!
I was at lunch today and asked my friends "Why don't American's have British accents in their speach?" They were dumbfounded and began to wonder themselves so I turn to Ask MetaFilter to find the answer.
I learned English as a second language (native is Finnish). The emphasis in school was on vocabulary and very basic grammar; we did not to my recollection deal with stuff like passive voice etc. So in terms of writing in English, much of my "voice" has developed simply from what sounds right inside my head. However, I've been told that the way I write is overly complicated. Is this so? [more inside]
I need one word, in singular form, that is synonymous with product, service, and experience (experience as in, taking a tour, sitting for a lecture, watching a live band..) The company I am working for provides many products, services and experiences for their customers, and I need a single, general noun that describes all of these. Help!
I am looking for a text file of a list of words (roughly the 5000-10000 most common English words) and their root word and root word language. My Google Fu only turns up single words or pages that I can type in a word to get to another page to get the etymology. Wikipedia has some stuff, but it is sorted by language root, which is not what I am looking for. I would like to have a long list of words in a text file so that I can manipulate it programatically. Comma separated or whatever, any format would be great. Here is one use case: Yoke - [list of words that have yoke in the etymological history] (Many, many many English words come from the root work for Yoke.) All answers appreciated!
I first came across this about 20 years ago in a Calvin & Hobbes strip where Hobbes taunts his friend: "Calvin and Susie, sitting in a tree. Kay-Eye-Ess-Ess-Eye-En-Gee!" I never understood why Hobbes was making "words" out of letters; I assumed it was something unique to comics (or tigers). Then today, a poem linked to in this FPP reminded me of that old comic strip and got me thinking: Why is there an entire parallel alphabet to spell out the letters of the alphabet? [more inside]
Where is this mystical land where it is acceptable to answer statements with: "So?" [more inside]
There are Latin fonts designed to mimic Cyrillic, Asian characters, and many other scripts. What are some examples of foreign-script fonts which mimic Latin characters?
Hello, I'm a French student preparing for English interviews and in my last mock session my interviewer talked about my accent that could put me at a disadvantage. I can't afford and don't have the time to see a speech therapist so I'm looking for books with audio tracks that are aimed at mastering the standard American accent. Do you know or know somebody that had had great results with a particular book? Thank you!
When did people stop using the term "model minority"? [more inside]
Does anyone have any resources to find historical forms of Ebonics? [more inside]
What does this Egyptian Arabic song mean in English? Listen to the song here. Thanks! : )
Are there any famous English catchphrases in foreign language television and cinema? Think of this as the Foreign language equivalent to "Hasta la vista, baby!" [more inside]
Are there any untranslateable American and British words? [more inside]
Business idioms that are actually useful? [more inside]
I have spoken english fluently since I was a child but I know many people that would like to learn or are trying to learn how to speak english. In my opinion the best method is full on immersion in an english speaking country. What would be the best country or place for this to happen? [more inside]
When did the use of contractions become common in American English and/or when did the absence of contractions become an (accurate or not) shorthand for outdated diction? [more inside]
My son has become fascinated with non-standard plurals in English, and I need more examples to feed him. Can you think of more like: Foot --> Feet; Goose --> Geese; Mouse --> Mice. What I'm not looking for is inside: [more inside]
English language friends: Why do we use the word “different” when it doesn’t appear to be necessary? [more inside]
What are some English words that contain a prefix, but the root is either not a word or is substantially unrelated to the prefixed word? [more inside]
I'm looking for a fun medium to long term project for an advanced ESL student. [more inside]
Tenses without English equivalents? [more inside]
Do spelling bees or tests exist in languages other than English? [more inside]
What does the word "abstract" mean? [more inside]
When do you say 'going down to X' and when do you say 'going up to X' in the context of geography? Do you have a system? For example do you say going up when you going North? For example we are going up to Sydney from Melbourne. Or do you use the rough height of the places? [more inside]
What do you call your brother-in-law's mom? [more inside]