There's a pithy one-liner, almost a saying or slogan, about how it's easy to complain about or take something for granted when you don't need it, but it's super important when you do
need it. I'm pretty sure that this one-liner originally applied to one specific thing (maybe the police, maybe a labour union, maybe socialized health care), but the sentiment could easily be generalized to a whole set of special purpose institutions. This whole goddamn saying is right on the tip of my tongue. Help me out?
posted by 256
on Aug 18, 2014 -
All my life, people have complimented me on my abiity to write well. In middle and high school, it was writing good chapter summaries, literary analyses and essays for homework using flowery language. In college, it became about construction and the flow of ideas, and I found myself to be reasonably adept at that as well. I'm currently jobless ( looking for my first job at 25), and when people chime in with suggestions on how to fix that, they can't understand why I poo-poo the idea of writing professionally out of hand. Help me develop my writerly mind and get myself out of the English class for good. [more inside]
posted by marsbar77
on Aug 7, 2014 -
Based on it being used unclearly elsewhere I ended up googling the phrase "Failed the test of humanity". I found multiple uses of it but no obvious originating source of the phrase. Does any one know where this apparent idiom comes from? Is it associated with a particular religion/culture? [more inside]
posted by Lentrohamsanin
on Aug 3, 2014 -
I'm looking for related resources (online & offline) for improving my writing skills for everyday work. [more inside]
posted by chrono_rabbit
on Jul 20, 2014 -
I'm teaching high school-level English next year for students who need a high level of academic support and I want the class to be both highly engaging and content-rich.
If you were a kid who LOATHED writing for school, struggled with boring English classes, or can remember what elements you truly enjoyed in your high school English class, what advice would you pass my way? [more inside]
posted by kinetic
on Jul 17, 2014 -
What have you read or watched that has changed the way you think about relationships, particularly what makes a good relationship? Bonus points for shorter texts and YouTube videos, but all texts should be approachable for high school juniors taking AP English for the first time. More specifics behind the cut. [more inside]
posted by guster4lovers
on Jul 7, 2014 -
I'm interested in reading English literature between Chaucer and Shakespeare and would like suggestions. [more inside]
posted by Thing
on Jun 28, 2014 -
"Can you use the Flesch Reading Ease Formula with a one-word sentence or a phrase that isnt a complete sentence? Such as a multiple choice answer on a test.
posted by Postroad
on Jun 24, 2014 -
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 -
I'm planning to move to Seattle in the fall and hope to work with the international/refugee population there, specifically Somalis. Which organizations are the best for international/ESL/refugee education or support for women and children? [more inside]
posted by asymptotic
on Jun 16, 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 -
My wife is finally going to meet my family. Problem, they don't speak English, She doesn't speak Russian. What are good non speech dependent fun activities we can all do? [more inside]
posted by Sentus
on Jun 9, 2014 -
I've found that I have properly enunciating the 'o' related English phonograms. Especially 'our.' I went to a speech pathologist who claimed (reasonably) that I wasn't moving my upperlip properly and moving my jaw done enough. But I wasn't satisfied by the resources he provided for correcting those problems.
Does anyone have any suggestions about the best resources for learning the proper lip/jaw movement of English phonograms?
posted by earlsofsandwich
on Jun 1, 2014 -
I'd like to know the English translation for this specific song: Muoi Nam Tinh Cu
, however if there is a good site that has a listing of classic Vietnamese songs with English translations, I'd love to know!
posted by travellingincognito
on May 27, 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 -
I graduated with an M.A. in English and through luck, contracting, and family connections, came to work in nuclear power. My administrative role has changed to field work. I prefer office work, especially writing reports etc. My area in nuclear is very specialized, and due to downsizing in the industry, I feel a real need to get familiar with my prospects for other jobs and diversify my skills. However, I have no idea how to begin, research being one of my weak points. Long explanation + details inside. [more inside]
posted by glass.hourousha
on Apr 3, 2014 -
I am looking for an additional income source, and understand that combining a home stay with teaching English as a second language is a possibility, because it is relatively well paid and there is a fair amount of work available where I am (Oxford, UK).
Has anyone done this? Are the above assumptions correct? What teaching qualifications are required? There is not a lot of info that I can find on the language teaching websites. Thanks.
posted by Kiwi
on Mar 11, 2014 -
My dad found this postcard that was sent in 1910
from my great-great-grandmother to her son and his wife. I've taken a stab at translating it from Norwegian to English using Google Translate, but I've only been able to figure out a few words due to the handwriting. There might also be some characters that I'm not familiar with. Can anyone decipher more of it? [more inside]
posted by theory
on Mar 1, 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 -
Want methods for memorization, time management, and other study tips... [more inside]
posted by lorn
on Jan 10, 2014 -
My mother's health isn't so great (and it isn't, sadly, going to get much better). She still enjoys movies, however, and I'd like to get her some animated stuff. Her vision isn't strong, so subtitles are out - so these must be dubbed or from Anglophone countries. [more inside]
posted by Frowner
on Dec 16, 2013 -
I've recently noticed an irritating trend in English-language writing: sections that really should be written in the past perfect tense are instead in the simple past tense. I've seen this more in American English than in British English, but that might just be confirmation bias. Is there a reason for this, for example a new style of teaching in schools or universities? And is it really new, or am I just looking for things to get annoyed about? [more inside]
posted by daisyk
on Dec 14, 2013 -
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 -
Is there a word for "one word", like monosyllabic means "one syllable"?
posted by mikeand1
on Dec 12, 2013 -
Looking for movie recommendations that feature French scenes, spoken French is good too. [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA
on Dec 2, 2013 -
Some time ago, on one of the national basic cable movie channels (USA, I think) which would run multiple showings of a given film for a month or so, I repeatedly flipped into a period film that amused me each time I watched a snippet.
Unfortunately, I never watched enough of the film to get a good idea of the plot, and therefore can't effectively describe the story, sooo... [more inside]
posted by mwhybark
on Nov 29, 2013 -
On the weekend I discovered a great series of German magazines/publications: Karfunkel
, especially the Karfunkel Combat series
. I know my son would love this stuff, but his German is super basic. So is there an English magazine series anything like these? [more inside]
posted by Megami
on Nov 25, 2013 -
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]
posted by tehloki
on Nov 22, 2013 -
Can you please help explain to me some techniques and procedures for teaching English to students with whom you don't share a common language? Its private tutoring and the students in this instance are two 10 year olds and they need to be speaking as much as they can in the next couple of months... and I will have them twice a week for an hour. I have an Ipad, a white board, and a copy machine....
posted by anonymous
on Nov 1, 2013 -
1)I should be going. 2) I shoud get going. 3)I should go. Please tell me the difference of the nuance between the three. Thank you.
posted by mizukko
on Oct 23, 2013 -
Right, calling all ESL teachers! Help this former teacher become a teacher again! I need your best 20 minute beginners English sample lesson plan and some resources I can use to brush up on my rusty grammar! [more inside]
posted by misspony
on Oct 14, 2013 -
I'm doing research on bowling and bowling pros, and I've had a hard time finding info on bowlers from Japan/JPBA (Japan Professional Bowling Association). Does anyone know any English sources that cover (or covered) the JPBA or any of their top bowlers? [more inside]
posted by lankford
on Oct 10, 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 -
Are there any websites that show reliable listings of middle/junior/senior high teaching positions throughout the U.S.? Public or private. Specifically in my case, positions in Secondary English/Language Arts.
posted by zardoz
on Aug 10, 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 -
Is there such thing as an English-language, available in the US, version of "livres de poche" (pocket-sized books)? [more inside]
posted by threeants
on Jul 23, 2013 -
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]
posted by NoraReed
on Jul 16, 2013 -
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!
posted by tsuwal
on Jul 3, 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 -
Has anyone come across good sources on the history and evolution of the term "tax haven"? I am looking for sources detailing at least its first appearance in written or spoken English, and if possible the date in which it was (wrongly) translated into French as "tax heaven" (paradis fiscal
). [more inside]
posted by ipsative
on Jun 23, 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 -