I've been tutoring a new student from the beautiful land of Cuba. She is 14 and her parents want me to teach her English. I think she is going through the natural process of culture shock and is overwhelmed by the US in general. To complicate things even more, the high school she just started with has thrown her mercilessly into an advanced Speech & Debate class. The poor kid is so frustrated by everything at this point that she's just giving up on learning English. How can I help inspire her to learn? [more inside]
Every time I start my Acer laptop (Windows 10), its default language (on every program as far as I can tell) is French. But this is not what it says in my Region + Language settings, where it says English (Canada), with English (United States) as Windows display language. [more inside]
In Ben Yagoda's The Sound On the Page, p.62, the following is written: "A nonstandard gerund at the end of sentences is an Elmore Leonard trademark. ('Today he watched from the wicker chair, the green shirt on the stick figure walking toward the road in the rain, still in the yard when Terry called to him.') So, what is he referring to as a "nonstandard gerund"? I don't see anything working gerundively.
I cannot remember this book and it is driving me crazy. When I was in France I was starving for English language books, and so came upon a relatively dense English novel about a young gentleman making his way in the world. It's not David Copperfield, but in a similar vein. The book was not an immediately recognizable to me at the time (I'm guessing it's a lesser work), but it's by a very well known English novelist, I'm thinking 18th or 19th century. [more inside]
What gift can I offer my anglophile 13-year-old niece ? [more inside]
I have recently become very interested in Taoism. Overwhelmed by the choices to read about it in English. Any must read recommendation on it in English will be really deeply appreciated.
My little brother, who, by all accounts, is brilliant at math, science, and especially computer engineering, has struggled with English classes his whole life. He is struggling in college and is falling behind. More details within. [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 recommendations for conventional short stories that are reasonably easy to read and have some literary merit. When I say “conventional”, I mean stories that have a distinct plot, with recognizable characters, and some kind of clear resolution at the end. [more inside]
I have volunteered to help out with a thing, and now I have a (short) bit of text that I am hoping someone can translate from English into Portuguese for me. [more inside]
I recall having seen something on TV maybe a decade or two ago in which a female character (or a male with a very high-pitched voice) was reciting the line, "O to be in England now that April's there[...]" several times with a very exaggerated/attempted British accent ("Eauuuugh to be in EEEEEEEEEEngland..."). I don't remember much more, and all my Google searches turn up is the actual poem that the line is from. I'd like to find this again; does it ring a bell to anyone? [more inside]
I volunteer as an English tutor for school age children in the UK. I have recently started work with a pupil who has serious problems with reading comprehension. What can I do? [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 a Swords and Sorcery middle grade children's book set in the medieval times I want to give a feeling of old English without the dense cryptic reality of old English. What makes for a good balance of thee and thous, doth and dosts? [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.)
So, I was designing rules with some EFL students in class the other day about how to differentiate between countable and uncountable nouns. We agreed that things which are too small to reasonably count are uncountable based on sand and the idea that liquids are uncountable (under the assumption that an individual 'piece' of a liquid would be a molecule and as such very, very small). Then one of the students broke the rule by asking why individual circuits are countable even though they are extremely small. So, is there an explanation for this? Does my rule just suck? [more inside]
I am looking for three things here: 1) Some kind of drill, preferably in game format but anything good will do 2) tools to run my writing through to catch my errors and 3) generic reference materials. Online resources are strongly preferred, in part because I get sick when I handle books and papers too much. [more inside]
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'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]
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?
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?
What is "The storm cannot be stopped; but it can be survived" in Latin?
Tryin' to track down a portfolio of English reading/writing laminated bifold four page workbooks. [more inside]
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]
Can anyone translate this Japanese letter or point me to a translation service? [more inside]
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]
I need advice to help me start tutoring. [more inside]
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?
Looking for movie recommendations that feature French scenes, spoken French is good too. [more inside]
I want to get a firmer grasp of the English-speaking countries history. [more inside]
I couldn't answer this when my Polish friend asked me why the letter changed sound, does anyone else know?
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!
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]
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]
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?
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]
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!
Can you translate this Italian phrase into English? "Nun so' fesso ma faccio o' fesso perche' facendo o' fesso te faccio fesso." [more inside]
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]
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!
Hello, Hive. 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]
Help me find a dialect map for the pronunciation of the word "data". [more inside]
I'm considering taking online courses/doing a part time degree in English for interest reasons. Will this be worth it? [more inside]
What is it like working in Asia? [more inside]
Does anyone have any resources to find historical forms of Ebonics? [more inside]