1965 posts tagged with language.
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Learning about the history of nationalized and marginalized languages

I know there was this process in the last few hundred years of European history where newly forming nations, trying to take hold of themselves, would decree one language official (French, Spanish), and try to squelch all of the many other languages/dialects (Occitan, Catalan) spoken within their borders. Where can I learn more? [more inside]
posted by gold-in-green on Nov 22, 2015 - 13 answers

Word parts and/or rules for combining them (morphemes?)

I want to write a program to generate new, realistic-sounding and -looking words. I want to programmatically create strings like 'bik', 'clible', 'aunstic', and 'cranoak', (if these words don't already exist), and avoid strings like 'bblejkm', 'aunstrbl', and other things that don't look pronounceable. Looking for a database of word parts to feed into this program, possibly with a set of accompanying rules. English or any other language (ideally with phonetic representations). [more inside]
posted by amtho on Nov 21, 2015 - 19 answers

Other languages' terms for transgender?

What are some terms for transgender in other languages, especially Spanish? What words do they use to identify themselves? [more inside]
posted by the bird at the bottom of the tree on Nov 13, 2015 - 11 answers

Can I get English-language service for my Japanese PS4?

So: my 2-month-old PS4 has broken down, with error CE-34878-0 across all applications. Sony US normally replaces machines that have this issue. My problem: I have a Japanese PS4, and Sony US refuses to service it. Sony Japan could probably help, but I don't speak Japanese (and I live in the US). What can I do? [more inside]
posted by grobstein on Nov 7, 2015 - 4 answers

Summary text of the Linguistic/Philosophical problem of Concepts?

So I'm looking for a text that provides a good summary / overview of the Linguistics and Philosophical (and Psychological?) debates, conflicts, theoretical models of the relations between words, concepts, and things. A good overview that covers the range from Abelard, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Fodor, etc.. Does such a book exist? [more inside]
posted by mary8nne on Nov 3, 2015 - 7 answers

Identifying English-as-a-Second Language speakers' first language?

With a long-enough sample of written or spoken* English from someone whose first language is not English, can linguists identify what that person's first language is? If so, what are the tell-tale signs for various languages? [more inside]
posted by alby on Oct 27, 2015 - 32 answers

One-phrase descriptions of writers

Can a writer's literary style or technique be summed up in one phrase? I am trying to compile such a list of descriptions. An example would be: "Ernest Hemingway: Simple, terse, unadorned, and uses few adjectives." George Bernard Shaw: "Energetic, witty, intellectual, aggressive, comedic, and socially critical." The more technical the description, the better.
posted by omar.a on Oct 26, 2015 - 2 answers

Nostalgia for the Future

Is there a word in English (or any other language) for anticipating nostalgia for events that have not yet happened? [more inside]
posted by erst on Oct 25, 2015 - 8 answers

How to say "nature does make jumps" in latin?

As opposed to natura non facit saltus. Is it just natura facit saltus? I want to be emphatic that it does saltate. Google Translate and other translation systems are giving divergent answers.
posted by curuinor on Oct 16, 2015 - 8 answers

Age, language barrier and feelings

Hi everyone. There is a 20 year old German exchange student in my class (I'm pursuing a professional degree). I'm 26. I admire him a great deal and I miss our conversations. He's who I aspire to be as a human being: someone who radiates goodness and spends his time buried in books when he's not training for an upcoming triathlon. We were friends and then because of my stupid feelings, we slept together. [more inside]
posted by kinoeye on Oct 13, 2015 - 20 answers


I have, by happenstance, come into possession of a small statue of a samurai that came with a little wooden sign with some Japanese writing on it. I'm sure one of you can easily translate it for me, and for that I would be grateful.
posted by prize bull octorok on Oct 8, 2015 - 1 answer

Friendly-sounding words?

In the “Steve Jobs” script by Aaron Sorkin, there is a little exchange between Jobs and Sculley in which the former says that the name “Apple” came from a “list of friendly-sounding words”. Regardless of why Apple is named Apple, do such lists exist? Is there any research on what makes a word sound friendly to people (phonetically, semantically, aurally, visually, ...)?
posted by omar.a on Oct 7, 2015 - 8 answers

Strengths and weaknesses of different languages?

What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of certain languages? I'm most interested in English and French but if you have knowledge of another that would also be fascinating! [more inside]
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot on Oct 3, 2015 - 45 answers

Why are people still saying 'spicket' instead of 'spigot'?

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]
posted by smokysunday on Sep 29, 2015 - 6 answers

Slang phrases (and where you heard them) for u-turn?

Hi, I'm interested in any slang words or phrases you have heard for making a u-turn. I'll share the two I've heard; I'd love to hear what you have heard. [more inside]
posted by rachelpapers on Sep 23, 2015 - 63 answers

Is there a name for this type of context in language?

"Après moi, le deluge" is a famous phrase. Literally it means "After me, the deluge." Idiomatically it essentially means "I don't care what happens after I'm gone, even if the world ends." I get all that. But what is missing from the Wikipedia page I linked to is the historical/cultural context; "the deluge" figuratively refers to the biblical flood described in Genesis 6-9. Is there a specific word for this sort of context for a phrase or term of art? [more inside]
posted by Wretch729 on Sep 15, 2015 - 18 answers

Universal English

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]
posted by Iteki on Sep 14, 2015 - 6 answers

Love Taza, NieNie, AptTherapy aka(mommy) lifestyle bloggers en francais?

Hi, I am looking for lifestyle and design mommy(or not)bloggers that speak and write in French. Bonus points if they are vloggers or keep an active YouTube Channel and Instagram. [more inside]
posted by rabu on Sep 8, 2015 - 3 answers

Is there a good English language school w/ home stay in NYC?

I'm looking for my cousin, who would like to come here for 2 months or so and study English. I was hoping to find a program that would put her with a family here (I don't really have the space or lifestyle for it). And of course, I need the program to be reputable and safe :) I imagine this sort of thing HAS to exist. Do you know of one?
posted by wooh on Sep 8, 2015 - 3 answers

Travel Life Lessons

I consider myself a fairly savvy traveler yet one who still makes noob mistakes that end up costing me disproportionately in either in time, money, or enjoyment simply because I didn’t know better. Although I’ve gotten better with each trip, it leaves me wondering what easy changes I still have left to make that can boost my travel skills without having to learn them the hard way? Bonus points for recommendations that take advantage of a smart phone! [more inside]
posted by Goblin Barbarian on Sep 5, 2015 - 29 answers

What do you call this? mm MM mmmm. Anything else like it? MM mm mmmm.

In American English, instead of saying "I don't know", you can just kind of.. mmm out each word. 1) Does that have a specific term, or is it just generalized under nonverbal communication? 2) What other languages have similar phrase > nonverbal things that are commonly used?
posted by curious nu on Aug 7, 2015 - 20 answers

Can Someone Please Translate This Latin Sentence?

I urgently need this Latin sentence translated. Thank you! [more inside]
posted by Jangatroo on Aug 4, 2015 - 5 answers

What should it be called: ATM or Cash Machine?

Explaining researching that uses data point around ATM/cash machines for both American and international audiences. In the US, people know them as ATMs. In the UK, they are often called cash machines, or cash points. I can only pick one for this work: which should I pick? [more inside]
posted by troytroy on Jul 24, 2015 - 26 answers

What do we call the type of noun following the verb "effect"?

You can effect a change but you cannot effect a banana. Change and banana are both nouns; is there a specific name for the type of noun that "change" is but "banana" isn't? Or is this a case where it can't be described in the way I'm hoping. TIA!
posted by ftm on Jul 20, 2015 - 25 answers

Foreign Language Editions of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Need help finding foreign language editions of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. [more inside]
posted by DanSachs on Jul 7, 2015 - 8 answers

Spanish kids' shows for 6-year-old, first-year student?

Our daughter just finished her first year of Spanish in a full-immersion kindergarten. We're looking for good all-Spanish TV shows we can show her (and my wife, who wants to learn) over the summer so she doesn't forget it all. [more inside]
posted by gottabefunky on Jul 6, 2015 - 12 answers

also, too

Explain the nuanced difference in meaning between "also" or "too" in this sentence: "We repair your motorcycle too." vs "We repair your motorcycle also."
posted by mightshould on Jun 28, 2015 - 13 answers

Language learning resources: Romanian edition.

I would like to learn Romanian. Unfortunately it is hard to find course offerings for this relatively niche language. I don't have a ton of money to throw at this, but I am willing to dedicate a significant amount of time over the next few years. Internet based language learning would be fine, but Seattle-specific language courses/groups would be optimal.
posted by Behemoth, in no. 302-bis, with the Browning on Jun 25, 2015 - 8 answers

Three questions about Australian English

Toward a better definition of "bogan;" gender differences in everday speech; an American tourist speaking without giving offense? [more inside]
posted by BadgerDoctor on Jun 21, 2015 - 33 answers

Hindi translation mystery

I'm trying to figure out the proper Hindi translation for "courage, dear heart". Google Translate gives me a few options, depending on whether I capitalize, add commas, etc, etc, and I'm trying to figure out the difference between them so I can figure out which is correct. I'd really like to get it right! Translations below the break: [more inside]
posted by anoncanuck on Jun 15, 2015 - 30 answers

Is there a word for someone who owns nothing?

Is there a word in the English language that means a person who owns nothing? [more inside]
posted by honey-barbara on Jun 8, 2015 - 24 answers

Job interview + can't understand my interviewer's accent

I'm a native U.S. English-speaker, they might not have been. I've twice been at U.S. job interviews where I haven't been able to understand my interviewer; they had an accent and I couldn't tell what words they were saying, even after they slowed down and repeated. How should I handle this? [more inside]
posted by StealthOatmeal on Jun 1, 2015 - 13 answers

Calling a head office "[company] Towers" - where does that come from?

I have noticed that in the UK people will sometimes refer to the (head) office of a company as "[Company name] Towers", even if the building is not in a tower, and it's not officially called a tower. Where does this come from? [more inside]
posted by easternblot on Jun 1, 2015 - 20 answers

Nyob zoo

In addition to "Welcome, Please Insert Your Card" messages in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese, my Wells Fargo ATM also displays "Nyob zoo, ntxig koj daim npav rau." Google Translate informs me that this is Hmong, but does not give me any inkling why an ATM in rural Virginia is greeting me in Hmong, a language which is considerably farther down the list of languages, ordered by number of speakers, than the other languages mentioned, and seems almost bizarrely random. What might the reason behind this be?
posted by Wolfdog on May 29, 2015 - 12 answers

Word similar to 'abreast' that describes walking in a line?

Walking 'abreast' means walking side-by-side. What equivalent word means walking single-file? [more inside]
posted by chudmonkey on May 27, 2015 - 22 answers

What are some works of SFF that use extraordinarily beautiful language?

What are some works of SFF that showcase beautiful language on a par with All The King's Men, Gilead, and Raymond Chandler's detective novels? I've read plenty of SFF that has transported me, but little that's struck me as gorgeously written. Thanks!
posted by Going To Maine on May 24, 2015 - 32 answers

What is the best way to document an intellectual experiment online?

While recently playing around with some online language translators, I wondered if it would be possible to learn a language (Latin, in this case) by only using such resources. I reasoned that, by translating from English to Latin, and vise versa, beginning with the rudiments of language, one could by trial and error, gradually learn the language. [more inside]
posted by rankfreudlite on May 23, 2015 - 10 answers

Training as a noun

When did people start saying "a training" to mean "a training session/workshop/meeting/program/etc"? What dialect of English did training-as-a-noun originate in? How did it spread?
posted by jedicus on May 21, 2015 - 29 answers

What is another way to tell an adult you are proud of them?

My husband works very hard and does amazing things. When he has an accomplishment, I have a hard time thinking of something to say other than "I'm proud of you" but I think that sounds so patronizing, fake, and parental. [more inside]
posted by ForeverDcember on May 17, 2015 - 26 answers

Eat the cherries off the top?

What’s a good metaphor for taking what you want and leaving the rest? Eat the icing and put the rest of the cupcake back on the plate? Eat the inside of the Oreo and put the rest back? Pick out all the cashews and leave the peanuts? I know there's a popular expression, I just can't remember what it is.
posted by Clotilde on May 12, 2015 - 33 answers

If I'm not bemused, what am I?

Bemused: I do not think it means what you think it means. So what word does? [more inside]
posted by Starling on May 11, 2015 - 20 answers

"Like carrying coals to Newcastle"

I used the expression "Like carrying coals to Newcastle" with my wife, who is originally from Ecuador. There is a different version in Ecuador. What other linguistic and regional variations do we know? [more inside]
posted by quarantine on Apr 29, 2015 - 21 answers

Language Resources

I am heading to Denmark to live for 6 months this year. I would like to learn the basics of the language before heading over there and I am looking for resources. [more inside]
posted by Lesium on Apr 27, 2015 - 14 answers

"Español español español!" "English english english!" "Español!"

I've noticed a trend on TV: multi-lingual families are shown having conversations in both languages at once. Usually, it's the older generation speaking in their first language and the younger generation speaking in English. Is this something that actually happens? [more inside]
posted by meese on Apr 22, 2015 - 43 answers

Best method(s) for learning French as an adult?

I'm a Canadian in Western Canada who is interested in French, but I don't know where to begin or what is the best way to go about it. [more inside]
posted by modesty.blaise on Apr 19, 2015 - 8 answers

How do I sign myself out of Google (not Gmail) on other computers?

For nearly a year, I've been plagued by my Google searches periodically defaulting to the Swedish Google page (and all of my Google activity turning into Swedish language). I have clicked on "sign out of all other web sessions" in gmail lots and lots of times. I have recently worked out that this happens because I signed into Google on my girlfriend's mother's account last summer. How can I make this stop without involving my girlfriend's mother? [more inside]
posted by cincinnatus c on Apr 12, 2015 - 12 answers

How to use Powerpoint online while in JApan in Englsih

I am needing to use powerpooint online from a Japanese freinds PC in Tokyo The menu items for IE and for powerpoint online are all in Japanese I went into Internet Explorer tools and added and promoted english language but nothing changes+ the menu is still in Japanese Can someone please guide me through this???
posted by dougiedd on Mar 7, 2015 - 7 answers

Sastrugi: ridges of snow formed on a snowfield by the action of the wind

With the recent news that nature words are being removed from children's dictionaries, I'm looking for many more nature words and their definitions to add to my lexicon. Books, blog posts, whatever, I'll take them all. The more obscure and localised the better. (Title taken from here).
posted by Solomon on Mar 7, 2015 - 10 answers

What programming language/technology should I master to make a living?

I have a solid foundation in computer programming (and theory) but have been mostly out of this field for several years, and not developing my skills. Assume I'm putting in the time and focus to really master something new. What language or technology (or area of application?) in programming could I master that would give me the best shot at becoming a valuable freelance contractor and making a living? Something rare and valuable (or which there's high demand for regardless) which works with being freelance. Your guidance would be appreciated Internets.
posted by Kirn on Feb 26, 2015 - 17 answers

Know any communication hacks to communicate with non-English speakers?

I'm traveling to some countries where I won't know the native language. I'm terrible at learning languages so I wanted to see if y'all know any quick hacks for communicating. e.g. one method is to carry a phrasebook and point to the relevant lines in it, then hand the book to the other person and have them point out their reply. (Hopefully its in the book :). Another: when on a bus and unsure whether it's the right one: Point forwards, say the destination in an interrogative tone, lift eyebrows.
posted by storybored on Feb 23, 2015 - 13 answers

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