I am trying to write a story that takes place in 1660s Massachusetts. I have a great plot and characters, but the action stops when they open their mouths. I simply don't know how they spoke. How can I find examples of 17th century English as spoken
by ordinary people? [more inside]
posted by Biblio
on May 26, 2014 -
I'm not looking for obscure words that are just baroque synonyms for common English words, or highly specialised David Foster Wallacesque curiosities, but rather words that are actually quite functional for day-to-day use but for whatever reason are not widely known.
posted by dontjumplarry
on May 16, 2014 -
Like many people on this site, I read a lot and have a pretty large vocabulary. But, when I speak or write, I often feel like much of that vocabulary is hiding in a part of my brain that I can't get at. Please suggest tasks that will flex my active vocabulary-retrieval muscles. [more inside]
posted by zeri
on Mar 24, 2014 -
In the course of a dramatic reading of "Fanny Hill" last night I ran across the phrase "turtle-billing," but I cannot find a precise definition of the act. Can you? [more inside]
posted by BlackLeotardFront
on Feb 16, 2014 -
I could swear that I have seen this on AskMe before, but I can't find it for the life of me. Is there a word for the situation in which something that used to be representable by a single word now needs two (or more) words? Like how "telephone" now sometimes has to be retroactively qualified as "landline phone" because of the advent of "mobile phones." "Analog watch" would be another example, I guess.
posted by slenderloris
on Feb 13, 2014 -
Art and philosophy people -- I need your help figuring out how to talk about the difference between art that is highly constricted by form vs. art that is very open-ended -- sonnets as opposed to free verse, men's clothing as opposed to women's clothing, calligraphy as opposed to sketching. [more inside]
posted by jfwlucy
on Jan 9, 2014 -
What's a word that means you say things to make people believe your intent or mindset is different than it is in order to harm them later without them suspecting you? For example, you might mention in discussion how much stealing disgusts you so that they won't suspect you later when you steal from them. [more inside]
posted by Defenestrator
on Nov 30, 2013 -
Is there a single, non-compound English word for this kind
of university lecture hall desk (those bolted-down seats with the arm-rests masquerading as desktops)? [more inside]
posted by paperback version
on Nov 25, 2013 -
I am required to bring a "word of the day" to my Toastmasters club's next meeting. This word should be an interesting and useful word that will expand everyone's command of the English language and ideally would be fun to use. Twist:
I want it to be Thanksgiving or holiday season related if possible. My google-fu is failing me because I keep getting results meant for children's crossword puzzles ("pilgrim", "turkey", etc.). I'm looking for something more along the lines of "puritanical" or something like that. Can be historical, related to feelings or gratitude or even satirical of the holiday.
posted by halseyaa
on Nov 25, 2013 -
Hi everyone. I am an international student considering the option of going to the US to do my graduate studies. I am currently studying for the GRE. As I am not a native English speaker (Portuguese), the verbal section is really difficult for me because of the vocabulary. As I got bored of studying vocab flashcards, I am know thinking of reading a book with a great diversity of words. What recent books do you recommend reading? (remember that I am completely unaware of the what the best english literature may be)
posted by tsuwal
on Aug 31, 2013 -
What is the origin of ending a sentence with a trailing "so..." ? Who is on record first using it? How did it spread?
I am talking about the annoying unfinished sentence word: "We would have gone cycling, but I couldn't find my bike, so..."
I am not talking about the legitimate adverb: "I love biking so!"
posted by michaelh
on Aug 29, 2013 -
I have a list of 625 English words, translations in a bunch of languages, and what-not in a giant excel file. We'll call that excel file "the Data." The Data is in alphabetical order. I also have a separate list of those same English words in a different order. Is there a way to sort the Data so that it's in the same order as my new, non-alphabetical list? [more inside]
posted by sdis
on Jul 7, 2013 -
When someone says head or latrine for bathroom its likely that they were in the military or around the military. A less common example,when someone says "avoid the near occasion" about something its likely that they are from a Roman Catholic background, I'd even say its use indicates a likelihood that they are or were a priest, seminarian, religious, in a kind of serious catholic family or school etc. Reckon is a common word and its being used once doesn't mean anything but when its use is pretty frequent it might be indicative of someone's having lived in the south east United States. When people say pop instead of soda or coke they likely are from somewhere roughly between Chicago and Denver, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Things like this interest me and I'm sure I know only a infinitesimal fraction of a percent of them. Do you have any like observations to share? [more inside]
posted by logonym
on Jun 19, 2013 -
I feel like I've forgotten a word. Is there a verb that means "to introduce an impure portion into" or else "decrease the purity of" -- but which is not
"corrupt" or "alloy"? If for example a stream of wastewater were to be joined into a freshwater river, that would be Xing the river. If an artist were to introduce crass commercial considerations into otherwise heartfelt art, that would be Xing the art. It could be that this word does not exist.
posted by shivohum
on Jun 12, 2013 -
I'm looking for an iPad app (Kindle or other ebooks are fine too if they can do this as I can get my hands on one for this) which is lots of big busy pictures with little words in them where you can press the picture and hear the word said - basically a speaking version of the Usbourne's First 1,000 words.
All I can find after several hours searching are flashcards or spelling-type games or dictionaries where the words are arranged A-Z. I keep thinking this must exist as the iPad would be perfect for this, but I'm just not turning up anything!
posted by viggorlijah
on May 24, 2013 -
I read a lot, and my receptive vocabulary is excellent. However, no so much on the expressive side. I tend to repeat the same word over and over in my writing, and sometimes have difficulty picking appropriate word to succinctly capture a concept.
So, what's a good and specific exercise(s) for increasing one's expressive vocabulary?
posted by pakoothefakoo
on Apr 10, 2013 -
What is the average working vocabulary (and outliers) of various languages?
Is the working vocabulary of English English different from American English or Australian English? and how does this compare with other languages?
posted by adamvasco
on Apr 4, 2013 -
When I was a kid, my grandfather bought me an audiotape meant to improve my vocabulary: 25 Power Words, or something. It was pitched, I think, as a way to get ahead in business -- and read in a very serious, very radio-y voice. We used to play it on long car rides, endlessly, when I was in elementary school (in the early 80s).
I'd really like to find a copy of the tape, but I can't remember its title. [more inside]
posted by buriedpaul
on Apr 1, 2013 -
What are your tips and techniques for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language? [more inside]
posted by kristi
on Feb 26, 2013 -
Please recommend books, websites, and other resources to learn more advanced French food and restaurant vocabulary, so that I can read menus and cookbooks, navigate restaurants, and describe food ("salty," "sweet," etc.). [more inside]
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston
on Feb 16, 2013 -
I need help in acquiring a lot of a vocabulary for a lot of languages. How can I best proceed and what should be my expectations and timetables be? [more inside]
posted by SollosQ
on Dec 16, 2012 -
Is/Are there term(s) to describe the threshold at which a person can see their own breath outside ? [more inside]
posted by fizzix
on Nov 13, 2012 -
What is the most effective way to increase your vocabulary (e.g. book, softare, method)?
posted by denverco
on Sep 1, 2012 -
Bilinguals and polyglots of AskMefi please hope me. I understand a lot of words and grammar in Japanese but don't seem able to use them. How do you make the leap from "knowing" a word or grammar pattern to actually being able to use it in conversation? [more inside]
posted by ultrabuff
on Jul 5, 2012 -
I'd like to find an iOS app for my mom- she wants a word-of-the-day or other vocabulary builder for English. She's fluent but it's her second language, and she'd like to have a stronger vocabulary. Any suggestions?
posted by BuddhaInABucket
on Jun 13, 2012 -
I have terrible pronunciation. Can you direct me to dictionary-type sites that teach how to pronounce words using high-quality audio files? Merriam-Webster
has the basics and is easy to use, but I am also looking for resources that cover more specialized vocabularies such as cooking terms, medical terms, technology terms, the names of important cultural figures, place names, and product names. Obscurity/difficulty level: stuff like sambal oelek, Yulia Tymoshenko, Mies van der Rohe, SUSE, Schenectady, Elidel, Saucony. [more inside]
posted by Susan PG
on May 5, 2012 -
Seeking English-language words that mean both a kitchen implement (knife, spoon, colander, pot…) and also a geomorphic or landscape feature (lake, river, mountain, bluff…)
Sinks and cauldrons all qualify, but here my early ay-em ingenuity runs out!
posted by tabubilgirl
on Apr 22, 2012 -
Is there a single word for finding pleasure in well done formulaic stories not because they are doing something new or even being particularly clever, but because they hit the notes well, manage the tropes, and deliver what they promise? [more inside]
posted by The Whelk
on Jan 22, 2012 -
There are three adults in my household -- my husband, myself, and our very close male friend. We think of ourselves as a family and it feels weird and a little cold to introduce each other as "roommates." So what word should we use? [more inside]
posted by Narrative Priorities
on Jan 6, 2012 -
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 -
What is it called when you're disqualified from an award for winning it too often? [more inside]
posted by Lorc
on Aug 31, 2011 -
I really like music that inspires me to jump up and...go read Wikipedia (or a dictionary, for that matter)! Bands that have produced the sort of thing I'm talking about here include Rasputina, Phideaux, and (to some extent) They Might Be Giants. Help me find more of this particular brand of awesome in the musical realm! Special bonus points if they can actually play their instruments well. [more inside]
posted by aecorwin
on Aug 22, 2011 -
In recent coverage of the Mark Duggan shooting and subsequent riots, I've seen a few instances of people referring to the police as "feds". Obviously in Britain there are no actual feds since there's no federal government, so what's the story here? [more inside]
posted by strangely stunted trees
on Aug 7, 2011 -
What are some words whose definitions have changed significantly in the last few centuries? [more inside]
posted by Shelf
on Aug 7, 2011 -
In what English movies or books would I most likely be exposed to new words? Any genre and time-period.
posted by keith0718
on Feb 3, 2011 -
If you wanted to learn 100 words in a foreign (i.e. non-english) language, which words would you choose? [more inside]
posted by mnemonic
on Dec 13, 2010 -
I'm a native French speaker, and I'd like to to learn some new English words. However, many advanced English vocabulary books contain a lot of words which are exactly the same in French. Of course, some of them are false friends, and there's always something to learn. However, I'd like to know if there exists a vocabulary book specifically dedicated for French speakers. [more inside]
posted by Fillus
on Dec 10, 2010 -