204 posts tagged with english and language.
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Unisex words - why?

About unisex terms: What is the reasoning behind them? By this I mean, for example, flight attendant instead of steward or stewardess, server instead of waiter or waitress, etc. I suppose during the height of the feminist movement in the 70s it was probably claimed that it was sexist to use terms that specify gender. But I am scratching my head wondering what the logic would be behind this. After all, if you use a term to specify females (eg stewardess) then you are also specifying males (eg steward), so I fail to see how this would be sexist. Also, it strikes me as a very handy conversion to be able to specify gender in the same word as the title. Nowadays, we have two words.. so you might hear your neighbor say, "I went to see a female doctor yesterday" (indeed, I think this is a common one), so we are still specifying the sex, so why not use doctress? I'm just curious about why this trend towards unisex words is happening and the logic behind it because frankly, I fail to see any. Thanks for any thoughtful replies!
posted by dbooster on Feb 22, 2007 - 95 answers

what does babbling in english sound like?

What does American English sound like to people who don't speak english? [more inside]
posted by sammich on Feb 12, 2007 - 35 answers

Reading material on English language origins

I want to learn more about the origins of the English language and about the roots of English words. [more inside]
posted by Foam Pants on Jan 1, 2007 - 25 answers

Modal verbs can versus could

English grammar: 'could be Xing' versus 'can be Xing' -- how can we explain why one is correct and one isn't? [more inside]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on Dec 12, 2006 - 23 answers

Can you think of "invalid" words?

In Chinese, the meaning of a spoken word can change depending on where stress is applied. Can you think of English words which embody this characteristic? I can only think of one at the moment: invalid. [more inside]
posted by Clementines4ever on Dec 7, 2006 - 37 answers

Why is Heidi Klum's English accent better than Henry Kissinger's?

Why is Heidi Klum's English accent better than Henry Kissinger's?
posted by airguitar on Nov 29, 2006 - 14 answers

[japanese] ... flying knee! ... [japanese] ... why not say "flying knee" in japanese?

Why the random English words used in asian language programming? [more inside]
posted by twiggy on Nov 16, 2006 - 12 answers

Migrating Slang

Here in the far-flung reaches of the English-speaking world, we're constantly being told our local language is being taken over by "American Slang". But does it go the other way? Are there any British / Australian / New Zealand or wherever phrases and words that have become commonly used by people in North America recently? Do Brooklynites ever exclaim "Crikey!" or "Bloody Hell!"?
posted by Jimbob on Oct 27, 2006 - 50 answers

What does one call something that contains the seeds of its own downfall?

What does one call something that contains the seeds of its own downfall? [more inside]
posted by viewofdelft on Oct 5, 2006 - 35 answers

passive voice question

He was killed; he got (himself) killed. It was sold; it got sold (possibly out from under me). What sort of semantic difference does using forms of "get" versus "be" in passive constructions convey? [more inside]
posted by kenko on Sep 8, 2006 - 12 answers

My vocabulary is large, it contains multitudes

LanguageArts: to the bilingual (or more) people in the hive... [more inside]
posted by seawallrunner on Sep 5, 2006 - 24 answers

Doctor, Doctor, what's the correct abbreviation for doctor!?!

InaneQuestionFilter: When you abbreviate doctor, does it get a full-stop? ie. should it be Dr or Dr.? [more inside]
posted by ranglin on Aug 29, 2006 - 21 answers

Flashcards

I am looking for flashcards on three specific subjects. I've looked online and haven't had much luck. The first I don't really need help finding, "beginning spanish words". The other two have been more difficult. [more inside]
posted by JokingClown on Aug 28, 2006 - 5 answers

Looking for a non-Indo-European language that sounds like English.

I was wondering if there are any non-Indo-European languages which would sound like gibberish, albeit English-like gibberish, to a native English speaker. [more inside]
posted by Frankieist on Aug 10, 2006 - 32 answers

Correct Usage

So there has been an invasion of portuguese man of war jellyfish locally..... [more inside]
posted by sgobbare on Jul 29, 2006 - 16 answers

Must... not... lick... Macbook.

What word am I thinking of? There's a word that means something like, "an object that compels you to want to eat or lick it, even though the object is in fact not edible or meant to be licked". If it helps at all, I believe I've seen this word used to describe the new Macbook and its resemblance to an oversized piece of Chiclet gum. And btw, "pica" is not the word.
posted by satori101 on Jul 25, 2006 - 38 answers

Has english conquered the entire computer world?

Are there any programming languages where the keywords/reserved words are in a language other than English? (ie; if, else, for)
posted by jacalata on Jul 25, 2006 - 5 answers

Is the 'th' sound native to any languages other than English?

Is the 'th' sound native to any languages other than English?
posted by airguitar on Jun 24, 2006 - 31 answers

What does 'Terror' mean?

Is the definition of 'terror' as 'Violence committed or threatened by a group to intimidate or coerce a population, as for military or political purposes' a recent development, or a regional variation? [more inside]
posted by beniamino on Jun 11, 2006 - 21 answers

Where can I find a list of common spanish words/phrases?

Does anyone know where I can find a list online of 500-1000 most common spanish words or phrases, along with their meanings? I searched a bit and found quite a few that had 50 or a 100 approximately, but I want more. I have a Spanish to English dictionary, but I want to print out a quick reference sheet. The list can be words or phrases, it doesnt matter too much.
posted by JokingClown on Apr 24, 2006 - 3 answers

Linguaesthetics

What does English sound like? [more inside]
posted by xanthippe on Apr 10, 2006 - 51 answers

"Literally" is its own antonym! How can this be?

Thanks to a derail in this thread, I have learned that Merriam-Webster now believes that "literally" also means "virtually." This has shaken me to the core, and seems to be evidence of the English language being irrevocably broken. I beg you to ease my soul and prove this isn't true by giving me evidence of other English words that, over time, have come to mean their own antonyms.
posted by Faint of Butt on Mar 28, 2006 - 103 answers

Holy Shit, Batman!

Where do apeshit and batshit come from? [more inside]
posted by landtuna on Mar 21, 2006 - 26 answers

I tried to think of a cute title, but to be honest, I didn't try very hard.

In America, there's a trend towards making the English language more gender-neutral. However, it seems that English is already one of the world's more androgynous languages. Is there an effort to make other languages more gender-neutral, or is it just American English?
posted by Afroblanco on Mar 17, 2006 - 50 answers

How do I teach my child a foreign language?

How to teach my child a foreign language (English)? [more inside]
posted by davar on Jan 29, 2006 - 21 answers

What is the History of English Capitalization?

What is the History of English Language Capitalization? [more inside]
posted by freebird on Dec 27, 2005 - 34 answers

How did American and British English become different?

Why is American English so different from British English? [more inside]
posted by gregb1007 on Dec 19, 2005 - 27 answers

American verb

How can I say "to skull a beer" in American English? It means to drink a whole lot of beer in one gulp.
posted by dydecker on Dec 13, 2005 - 55 answers

How to improve and practice my english conversation skills using skype

I'd like to improve my english (french is my mother language). [more inside]
posted by vincentm on Dec 8, 2005 - 27 answers

Kiss my 'S-es'.

What's the deal with expressing ownership on names that end in 's'? If I had a buddy named 'Loveless' and wanted to talk about his pet dog, I would write "Loveless' pet dog". But I would clearly pronounce the exact same sentence like "Lovelesses pet dog". Doesn't that suck?
posted by fucker on Nov 23, 2005 - 22 answers

where the 性交 am I?

How do I see this google map of Japan with English placenames?
posted by luriete on Oct 18, 2005 - 10 answers

How do we know how Chaucer sounded?

There seems to be a consensus on how Chaucer and his contemporaries sounded. What I'd like is a summary (or links, or pointers to resources) of how we know how Middle English speakers sounded.
posted by everichon on Oct 10, 2005 - 7 answers

Why should ancient foreigners speak ancient English?

Why is the dialogue in Rome all in quasi-Shakespearean English? [more inside]
posted by skryche on Sep 1, 2005 - 36 answers

Who's right?

When Americans talk about things like bands and sports teams they use the singular but when people in the UK/Ireland do so they use the plural. Who's right? [more inside]
posted by daveirl on Aug 11, 2005 - 22 answers

Guide to 17th-century English

Can anyone recommend a dictionary or guide to 17th-century English that would help my teenage daughter understand the words she comes across when reading Milton and the boys?
posted by GoatCactus on Jul 20, 2005 - 10 answers

Pictograph Translations and Sound

Why are Asian languages not translated into English phonetically? [more inside]
posted by interrobang on Jun 27, 2005 - 21 answers

vocabulary building

I'm pretty verbose, but I don't think my vocabulary has grown much in years. And I'd like to build it up. [more inside]
posted by grumblebee on May 18, 2005 - 23 answers

Good dictionary for a writer?

Which dictionaries would you recommend as a gift for a writer friend? [more inside]
posted by hootch on Apr 27, 2005 - 35 answers

Is there a noun to refer to a childless person?

Is there a word in English, a noun, that refers to a childless adult? Given the nature of English, there seems like there would be, but if there is, I can't think of it. If there isn't, why not? [more inside]
posted by sic on Apr 9, 2005 - 48 answers

Grammar Filter:

Which statement is correct? Does either of you recognize this person? Do either of you recognize this person? [more inside]
posted by pelican on Mar 19, 2005 - 19 answers

Etymology of the phrase "hunt you down like a dog"

What's the origin of the phrase "hunt you down like a dog?" I can seem to find the origins of other phrases involving dogs pretty easily but not this one.
posted by DyRE on Feb 3, 2005 - 16 answers

What's the difference between intern/internship and trainee/traineeship?

English language question: what is the difference between intern/internship and trainee/traineeship? [+] [more inside]
posted by elgilito on Jan 28, 2005 - 18 answers

Visit My Website, Mon!

Are there any websites written entirely in Jamaican English?
posted by reklaw on Jan 7, 2005 - 18 answers

One is not amused

"One is not amused..." Personal pronoun, or third person generalisation? [MI] [more inside]
posted by benzo8 on Nov 6, 2004 - 9 answers

Split infinitives: still a menace?

Does anyone still get upset about split infinitives? [more inside] [more inside]
posted by reklaw on Oct 10, 2004 - 28 answers

What are baby apes called?

Cats have kittens, dogs have puppies, Geese have goslings, foxes have kits, goats have kids, people have kids. What do apes have?
posted by Miles Long on Sep 1, 2004 - 17 answers

"Normative"

What does "normative" mean? Is it a useful word? I only ever see it used in obscure, academic writing, which makes me suspect it's worthless. How is it different from "normal"? My dictionary says it means, "Of, relating to, or prescribing a norm or standard: normative grammar." That sounds like "normal" to me, so why not just say "normal"? Can someone give me some clear sentences that use the word -- sentences that are not written in post-modern, complit speak? Can one use "normative" meaningfully in a sentence about real-world things, like butter, eggs or bricks?
posted by grumblebee on May 21, 2004 - 24 answers

I need an English translation for a song lyric I have only in French

ForeignLanguageFilter: What tools (if any?) are available on the Internet for translating materials that are not prose into English? Specfically, I need an English translation for a song lyric I have only in French. Neither my pathetic high school slacker French nor the usual suspects are producing anything useful... Any suggestions?
posted by JollyWanker on Apr 26, 2004 - 9 answers

What's the difference between the words "proffer" and "offer"?

What's the difference between the words "proffer" and "offer"? This has been driving me mad for some reason for a few days now. Every dictionary I consult basically seems to say that they mean the same thing. But surely there must be a difference, right?
posted by reklaw on Apr 19, 2004 - 12 answers

What's the origin of the phrase "bleeding deacons"?

Could someone please explain what the phrase "bleeding deacons" means ?
posted by sgt.serenity on Apr 14, 2004 - 13 answers

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