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]
posted by Mars Saxman
on Jun 19, 2014 -
Can anyone recommend a beginner level English language tutorial series for Spanish speakers who cannot read or write in either language?
posted by jayCampbell
on Jun 12, 2014 -
You often hear people say things like "When in Rome" or "Great Minds" when people are generally meaning, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." or "Great minds think alike." Is there an actual literary term for these clipped or shortened idioms?
posted by sevcenko
on May 22, 2014 -
"The storm cannot be stopped; but it can be survived"
posted by cake vandal
on Apr 17, 2014 -
What is the origin of "making it sing," as in to cause something to be at its best, be it an instrument, weapon, machine, or anything else? [more inside]
posted by BlackLeotardFront
on Jan 27, 2014 -
I just had someone tell me that it is correct to close a letter with “Signed, [Mr. Letter Writer].” It’s the use of the word “Signed” that I find strange and just wrong. I have never in my life seen this and am having a hard time believing it is acceptable. Can anyone enlighten me?
posted by Dolley
on Dec 13, 2013 -
Looking for movie recommendations that feature French scenes, spoken French is good too. [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA
on Dec 2, 2013 -
I couldn't answer this when my Polish friend asked me why the letter changed sound, does anyone else know?
posted by dash_slot-
on Aug 12, 2013 -
We are trying to think of names for our impending baby girl. I am American and my husband is Japanese. We plan to give her an English first name, Japanese middle and last name.
We have settled on a middle name, Miyuki (美幸). So her name thus far is _______ Miyuki xxxxshi.
Criteria for English name:
 must be easily writable in katakana (For example, Wi- isn't great, or Gl-, or x. All of these sounds can be written, but they come out complicated.)
 must not sound silly in Japanese (this is subjective and related to .)
 must not end in a long e sound, since middle and last names already do.
 Prefer a classical name (i.e. something my Grandma would recognize as a name) but no need for it to be especially popular right now. We'll probably avoid the top five or ten most popular names.
We are NOT looking for names that do double duty (which is what most of the threads I've found are about). So, not Naomi (always the first name that gets trotted out in these situations). We want a name from each culture that the grandparents on the opposite side can pronounce and that the kid can write when she gets to kindergarten.
I'd especially appreciate input from fluent Japanese speakers here, and/or members of mixed families. Thanks!
posted by telepanda
on Aug 8, 2013 -
I speak English with a foreign accent. Some people assume I don't speak Engish as well as them. And then speak to me like I'm a child. How can I tell them to stop? [more inside]
posted by mkdirusername
on Jun 29, 2013 -
In athletics, do events named "boys 100m" or "girls javelin" have an apostrophe? That is, should they rightly be "boys' 100m" and "girls' javelin"? It seems that the standard usage for grownup events is "men's" and "women's", but I'm unsure. Opinions?
posted by Jehan
on Jun 11, 2013 -
After Georg Friedrich Händel became George Frideric Handel in 1727, I have it stuck in my mind that he once said, to a Brit who called him a German, "No, Sir, I am more English than you, because I chose
to become English, whereas you were assigned your nationality willy-nilly," or words to that effect. But no amount of googling has found a reliable quote or reference to this. Has anyone else heard this story, or did my mind make it up? Anyone have a reliable source? [more inside]
posted by aqsakal
on May 26, 2013 -
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!
posted by Monkey0nCrack
on May 16, 2013 -
Can you translate this Italian phrase into English? "Nun so' fesso ma faccio o' fesso perche' facendo o' fesso te faccio fesso." [more inside]
posted by ataxia
on Apr 28, 2013 -
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]
posted by andromache
on Apr 14, 2013 -
Where is this mystical land where it is acceptable to answer statements with: "So?" [more inside]
posted by 256
on Apr 5, 2013 -
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?
posted by lite
on Mar 27, 2013 -
I'm working on a historical graphic novel and a portion of it involves four sentences in German. I've made an effort to hammer something out by testing Google Translate's gibberish against some German language textbooks and grammar sites. I'm sorta confident about them, but would love for any bilingual native German speakers to give them a once over. Particularly, if you have any insights into generational differences in the German language, as this piece is supposed to take place during WWII.
Posting them after the jump. [more inside]
posted by ProfLinusPauling
on Feb 27, 2013 -
I'm considering taking online courses/doing a part time degree in English for interest reasons. Will this be worth it? [more inside]
posted by Paper rabies
on Jan 3, 2013 -
What qualifications do I need to teach humanities, beyond the normal education teachery qualifications? Victoria, Australia, to be specific. I am a Spanish/English methods teacher, but would love some more advice on applying for all those English/Humanities jobs out there. [more inside]
posted by titanium_geek
on Oct 4, 2012 -
Hermann Hesse apparently published a book called Bäume: Betrachtungen und Gedichte
(Trees: Reflections and Poems) and I'm trying to find a version in English, because it sounds awesome. Look
. [more inside]
posted by Cobalt
on Sep 25, 2012 -
I know that the real English countryside is not as violent as Midsomer County -- no place is
-- but how realistic are the other aspects of country life portrayed in the show? (specific questions inside) [more inside]
posted by OrangeDisk
on Sep 14, 2012 -
How could I describe in a non-technical way how certain English-speakers maintain a distinction between the "w" and "wh" sound? A certain amount of technical description could help. Its for a character in a story. For example: "The beginning of his 'what' still comes from deep within his throat." I don't know if that's technically true and it sounds awesomely terrible but something like that. [more inside]
posted by pynchonesque
on Jul 13, 2012 -
Looking for work in Japan - Have a work visa that will expire in early August. Details inside. [more inside]
posted by Kamelot123
on May 26, 2012 -
Have there been any American actors that have been cast as primary characters on British shows and use a British accent? [more inside]
posted by curious nu
on May 6, 2012 -
English language friends: Why do we use the word “different” when it doesn’t appear to be necessary? [more inside]
posted by bryon
on Apr 17, 2012 -
Project based learning and interdisciplinary teaching! I'm a high school science teacher working with an enthusiastic English teacher and we're trying to find the best project ideas to use in summer school (and beyond if successful). [more inside]
posted by kinetic
on Mar 30, 2012 -
E.B. White and George Orwell both suggest that short, lively Saxon words are often better than long Latin ones. This rule has helped my own writing, but my thesaurus is still full of Greek and Latin. Is there a thesaurus that includes only Anglo-Saxon synonyms? Even better, is there one sortable by origin?
posted by ecmendenhall
on Mar 3, 2012 -
I graduated from college a few months ago with an IT degree, but my heart is not in it. I also just got a certification to teach English overseas. Should I work in IT or travel overseas? [more inside]
posted by deeba
on Feb 2, 2012 -
I'm looking for a fully online MA program in TESOL or a related field like Applied Linguistics, that is NOT meant for K-12 public school teaching, with the aim of professionalizing myself as an English tutor. I found the New School's program here
, that would certainly cover all my bases, but I simply wouldn't be able to afford the cost. Can you help me find other options? [more inside]
posted by StrikeTheViol
on Jan 9, 2012 -
Where can I find a comprehensive list of words that are pronounced differently in the US and the UK? Wikipedia
is a good start, but it's not complete. [more inside]
posted by cincinnatus c
on Dec 21, 2011 -
is there a word for 'a word that fits its own definition'? for example, sesquipedalian is a big word that by definition means "prone to using big words." is there a formal term for this type of thing?
posted by carlypennylane
on Nov 29, 2011 -
Can you help me explain how and when to use articles (a/an/the) to a non-native English speaker? [more inside]
posted by shortyJBot
on Nov 7, 2011 -
Has an evaluation been made of the dichotomy between what is implied by the term "wild" in the line "You drive us wild" and what is implied by the term "crazy" in the immediately following line "We'll drive you crazy" in KISS's "Rock And Roll All Night?"
posted by herbplarfegan
on Aug 23, 2011 -
Why does the New York Times write "unemployment rose to 10% from 5%" rather than "unemployment rose from 5% to 10%"? I trip over this formulation and have to go back and reread the clause every time. Is the goal to increase clarity of avoid confusion in some way? How so? This doesn't seem to be standard American English, and it's certainly not usual in the UK. [more inside]
posted by caek
on Jul 15, 2011 -