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Folks = parents?

Where you live, or where you grew up, do people commonly refer to their parents as "my folks"? Would that phrasing sound odd to you, or stand out in any way, if, say, a coworker used it? [more inside]
posted by mudpuppie on Apr 21, 2014 - 89 answers

 

Getting faster at reading in-language

I'm a fast reader in English. I want to get faster at reading in Russian (in which I am fluent, but rarely use at this point). How can I do this?
posted by aaanastasia on Apr 8, 2014 - 10 answers

Help me be francophone again

I need to return to my French language oral fluency by mid-October. What are your best tips and tricks to resuscitate your language skills? Websites? Podcasts? Structured systems? [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Apr 7, 2014 - 10 answers

New windows installation and language change

My company currently has a computer that has a Japanese version of Windows 7 Professional installed on it. We want to install an English language version of Windows 8.1 on the computer. Will the language for the Microsoft Office software (currently also Japanese) already installed on the computer also change to English when we change to the new English language version of Windows 8.1? [more inside]
posted by tokaidanshi on Apr 7, 2014 - 5 answers

Like, I like Like

Does anyone remember a recent article by (I think) a linguist whose main point was defending the colloquial use of "like", as a way to explicate internal monologue in a way that wasn't really done before? For obvious reasons this is very hard to google for. I don't remember if I saw it here on Metafilter or some other source.
posted by bleep on Apr 4, 2014 - 15 answers

What is meant by a "blind scramble"?

Search results indicate this term being used synonymously with "mad scramble", but also as something to do with sports tournaments. Apart from being evocative, does it mean anything specific?
posted by unmake on Apr 2, 2014 - 2 answers

What's a word that describes synonyms and antonyms together?

Asking for a friend. Said friend is: A) Tired of writing "synonyms and antonyms" over and over B) Trying to shorten the paper she's writing that contains this phrase. [more inside]
posted by Mister Moofoo on Mar 31, 2014 - 4 answers

OMG = Oh My (not God)?

I'm an atheist with a God problem. My exclamations of surprise, disgust and frustration usually take the form of "Oh my God" or "Jesus Christ!" or "Holy shit". I want to find some new - preferably safe for work and young ears - versions of my favorite exclamations that have the same import and emphasis that I so enjoy from the current ones. [more inside]
posted by tafetta, darling! on Mar 25, 2014 - 132 answers

"Guys! Check it out! The English term for it is..."

There's no shortage of articles online that take the basic form "here are awesome non-English words and phrases that are hilarious and/or that English doesn't have a direct translation for". Examples: A German slang term for low-back tattoos is "Aarsgewei", which translates to "ass antlers". Also in German, the term for eating because you are sad is "Kummerspeck", which is literally "grief bacon". The Finnish word for pedant, pilkunnussija, translates as "comma fucker". I'm curious about the flip-side, like a non-English-speaker being amused that low back tribal tattoos are called "tramp stamps" in the US. What English words or slang terms are amusing to speakers of foreign languages in the same way that I find some of their terms amusing and/or awesome?
posted by rmd1023 on Mar 25, 2014 - 54 answers

Advanced Spanish Preservation For Short Attention Spans

Hi, folks. Through work and study, I achieved fluency in Spanish. In my current job, I was hired to do bilingual work, but I have had very little opportunity to speak Spanish for about six months. I'm worried I may be forgetting Spanish, which is really very bad for me on many levels. Please help me find a few ways to keep in touch with the language. [more inside]
posted by Hennimore on Mar 24, 2014 - 10 answers

What's in a name? RUB: Massage, Yoga, Wellness.

What do you think of the name "Rub" for a health spa? Is it cute or dirty and why?
posted by lolo341 on Mar 21, 2014 - 34 answers

That had a completely different ending than I was expecting...

I'm looking for examples of sentences/phrases that have a completely different meaning at the beginning of the sentence than they do by the end. The best example I can find is this example of Happy Ending's that sounds completely inappropriate until he finishes the verse. Is there a name for this? Is this a literary device? (I thought it might have been a type of irony at first, but I'm not certain.)
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper on Mar 14, 2014 - 19 answers

What does it say?

Can the hive mind take a look at the picture of this necklace and see if the back of it is calligraphy of some sort? It looks like Arabic or Persian. If so, does anyone know what it says? Here's the picture.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies on Mar 10, 2014 - 8 answers

Why is it "der Bär" and "die Maus" and not "das Bär" and "das Maus"?

Is it acceptable, in the name of practicality, to ignore gender while speaking German? [more inside]
posted by triceryclops on Mar 9, 2014 - 23 answers

“I’ve not” and “I’ll not” ~vs~ “I haven’t” and “I won’t” -- Why?

I’ve noticed that I’m increasingly reading “I’ve not” in place of “I haven’t” and “I’ll not” in place of “I won’t.” When I was growing up (the 70s), these expressions were exceedingly rare. I knew they existed, of course, but to me they seemed redolent of century-old books: “I’ll not brook such behavior in my classroom, Tom Sawyer!” “Fezziwig! I’ve not heard his voice since my youth.” But in the last 15 years or so, I've been seeing these phrasings more and more often in colloquial writing — other blogs, Amazon reviews, internet discussions, MeFi etc. I don’t seem to hear these forms spoken, which adds to their air of formality. [more inside]
posted by ROTFL on Mar 8, 2014 - 22 answers

African languages among enslaved people in the USA.

When did enslaved Africans in the US stop speaking African languages? [more inside]
posted by jason's_planet on Mar 2, 2014 - 19 answers

What are some examples of completely unique writing systems?

I'm fascinated by writing systems. I've seen this wiki page about different types of systems in real and fictional languages. As I understand it, there are generally three kinds of systems: logographic, where symbols represent entire concepts or words; syllabaries, where symbols represent syllabic sounds; and segmental, where symbols represent phonemes or small units of sound. Is there any other way to write? I'm having a hard time coming up with how it would even work, but I'm sure some clever author somewhere has tried. Is there another way to write a language other than the above?
posted by RobotNinja on Feb 27, 2014 - 14 answers

Help me better describe dynamic scientific processes in general terms

I'm looking for scientific or mathematical examples, ideas, which could rightly refer to the imagined class of dynamic systems I'm trying to describe. [more inside]
posted by xtian on Feb 25, 2014 - 8 answers

"young lady"

Is there any explanation for how the phrase "young lady," used in addressing an obviously older woman, became popular? I never hear it used in addressing girls anymore, but only as a lame attempt to be friendly to an older woman. It's as if the speaker is trying to make you feel better about the fact that you are not a young lady; it is so much nicer to hear the respectful yet affectionate Southern colloquialism "miss lady." Ditto for the phrase "graduate college': when and why did even respected news sources drop the "from" ("graduate from college")? Thanks for listening.
posted by mmiddle on Feb 25, 2014 - 30 answers

Wedding Registry Language

“Cash is an option too! Don’t forget that!”. Help us come up with proper cash gift language to put on our wedding registry website. [more inside]
posted by SeparateAccountForWeddingQuestions on Feb 24, 2014 - 31 answers

Chinese podcasts to listen to on the way to school

I'm currently studying Chinese in Beijing and I'm looking for podcasts or audio recordings to help me learn more. Do you know of any good Chinese language podcasts that can help me study? [more inside]
posted by lalunamel on Feb 24, 2014 - 1 answer

expressing myself in a second language

I am a university student who takes french as a minor alongside law. My law essays are well received, and even when I miss the mark on the question my professors say I have expressed myself and written a good essay. In french, the opposite is true. I'm struggling with basic structure and linking of my ideas in this second language. Any help or advice? [more inside]
posted by Braeburn on Feb 24, 2014 - 14 answers

Look at this old bookplate!

What language is this? What does it say? [more inside]
posted by steef on Feb 21, 2014 - 8 answers

Is '-wallah' (as in chai-wallah) in any sense an offensive word?

Let's say you've been having a lot of conversations about finding a way to get certain isolated or repetitive tasks done. Some things can be handled by automation, so they get a '-bot'; others get done by a human, so they get a '-wallah'. But is there some manner in which '-wallah' could be taken to be derogatory, offensive, appropriation, insensitive, etc? [more inside]
posted by bartleby on Feb 19, 2014 - 53 answers

Is there a general term for phrases like "landline phone"?

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 - 19 answers

Local Paris television news online

I'm looking for daily local video news from Paris, France, in French, online. [more inside]
posted by Joleta on Feb 13, 2014 - 2 answers

Nemluvím česky

I'm trying to make language learning a daily habit on my bus commute, and looking for tips on making it work. [more inside]
posted by hannahlambda on Feb 12, 2014 - 12 answers

Like A Sailor

How can I swear better? I want to learn the art of swearing to broaden the range of my expression, be it to share joy, frustration, boredom or anything else. [more inside]
posted by squishles on Feb 8, 2014 - 33 answers

What's up with this odd usage of the word "steal"?

In the early 1990s, the boys in my middle school used to threaten to "steal" each other, meaning hit/punch/sock/pop/smack. It was most commonly heard as, "I'mma steal you in your eye!" or "I'm gonna steal him upside the head!" I found it strange even then, and I haven't heard or seen reference to it since. Have you heard "steal" used like this before? Where could it have come from? Relevant details: This was in Nash County, North Carolina. I recall hearing it exclusively from white boys. The couple times I asked someone who was self-aware enough to discuss it, they were adamant that it was "steal" and not "steel."
posted by rhiannonstone on Feb 6, 2014 - 17 answers

Help me figure out the origin of this Italian-American slang word

I'm trying to figure out the origin of a particular Italian slang word my family uses that means "gaudy, tacky or overdone". [more inside]
posted by Thin Lizzy on Feb 1, 2014 - 29 answers

Data on perception of swearing/foul langauge, sorted demographically?

I'm looking for data on what is perceived as swearing, foul language, etc. - in other words, language that one person might correct another for using. In particular, I'm looking for information on how this varies according to demographics, and especially how it varies from one geographical area to another. (I'm in the U.S., and am primarily interested in U.S. data.) This doesn't have to be "scientifically accurate" information: an internet poll with enough recipients to be meaningful would be totally fine. Bonus points if the information addresses the perceived severity of the word: for example, while I'm sure there are words that are perceived as swears nearly universally in the US, I'd love to see data on how words like "damn" or "crap" would be rated in different areas.
posted by SpiralT on Jan 23, 2014 - 7 answers

term for fallacy of believing other minds are like your own?

When I was studying history of philosophy I remember encountering a term which I recall as being either 'historical monism' or 'psychological monism', which referred to the (posited) error of assuming, I think looking historically, that the psychology of other peoples was like your own. I.e. of assuming that you could reasonably attempt to understand their motivations &c. It might have had something to do with heiddegger? It seems unlikely that this would've involved the term 'monism', though, looking back, and I'm not having tons of luck with google. Any clues?
posted by cmyr on Jan 22, 2014 - 11 answers

What bullshit is my mom talking?

I was talking to my mom last night and at one point in the conversation, she wanted to call something bullshit, but she is extremely opposed to swearing, so she used a euphemism instead. It was so funny that my partner and I both burst out laughing when she said it, but neither of us can remember it now. Help me identify it! [more inside]
posted by Neely O'Hara on Jan 21, 2014 - 26 answers

Usenet author posting in justified paragraphs?

Does anyone know the name/email address of a guy who used to post to Usenet in the mid-1990s in justified text? (When rendered in a monospaced font.) [more inside]
posted by mstillwell on Jan 14, 2014 - 10 answers

Help me teach myself French

I have some very basic French language skills, and I would like to develop them to the level of working proficiency over the next few months (I am prepared to study hard). I am enrolled in a class and have a tutor. What are some other resources (preferably free ones) that I can work with my own time in order to accelerate my learning as much as possible? [more inside]
posted by Scientist on Jan 9, 2014 - 30 answers

BookFilter: English fiction with lots of Spanish language elements

I'm looking for recommendations of English-language fiction that heavily features Spanish-language elements. I'm working on learning Spanish again (I had 3 years in high school, about 10 years ago) and thought it would be fun and useful to read novels that incorporate Spanish heavily, kind of an immersion strategy. [more inside]
posted by sprocket87 on Dec 30, 2013 - 11 answers

Is there a word for "one word", like monosyllabic means "one syllable"?

Is there a word for "one word", like monosyllabic means "one syllable"?
posted by mikeand1 on Dec 12, 2013 - 13 answers

Russian Cursive

Where can I see numbered diagrams for handwriting each Cyrillic letter?
posted by slowlikemolasses on Dec 5, 2013 - 2 answers

English language movies featuring France or French

Looking for movie recommendations that feature French scenes, spoken French is good too. [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA on Dec 2, 2013 - 25 answers

Batman: Linguistic Origins

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 - 27 answers

Can we ever see eye to eye? Body language idioms, please.

Trying to think of idioms / phrases that relate to body language, rather than just body parts. One example could be "to raise eyebrows". There must be others, but the web mostly came up with things like "in one ear and out the other", which isn't quite what I wanted. Suggestions appreciated.
posted by Prof Iterole on Nov 19, 2013 - 28 answers

Adrienne Rich poem

Poetry question: Do you think Adrienne Rich's "November 1968" is literally about burning leaves? Does she intend that month and year to mean something to the reader? Any other thoughts? [more inside]
posted by kalapierson on Nov 19, 2013 - 13 answers

to authenticate a lie

Is there a word that means to corroborate a lie? For example if one person says the sky is green and then another person confirms that they sky is green. Or is there a legal term for this as well in the sense of lying about statutes?
posted by skwint on Nov 16, 2013 - 13 answers

so question such askmefi very internet

What is the name and/or origin of the meme where intensifers/adverbs are placed before nouns? [more inside]
posted by i_am_a_fiesta on Nov 14, 2013 - 8 answers

What percentage of English words have three syllables?

What percentage of English words have three syllables?
posted by reverend cuttle on Nov 12, 2013 - 10 answers

Replacing guys

Whats a good group noun to replace guys? [more inside]
posted by Cannon Fodder on Nov 12, 2013 - 55 answers

Progressively Challenging Hindi Literature for the Novice Hindi Reader

I'm looking for Hindi books that progressively increase in difficulty. I'm a Hindi speaker that learned from my parents conversationally, but I have no grasp of the Devanagari script. I thought I could teach myself the script by rote, then work my way up through books of increasing difficulty similar to how I have read books in grade school in the USA. [more inside]
posted by brocrastinator on Nov 11, 2013 - 3 answers

Best book to learn how to write professionally and self-edit my own work

Recent job opportunity came up, and I have the chance to write semi-professionally for a small company. Think in the vein of writing movie reviews or reviewing software. Its professional writing, but there will be conceptual and thematic details involved, it's not simply writing staid copy. I would like to find a book that helps me hone my prose, and will teach me how to better edit and improve my work. [more inside]
posted by cascando on Nov 5, 2013 - 5 answers

Language school in Beijing needs social media advice.

Please help. I work for a language school that teaches Mandarin Chinese to foreigners inside China. We specialize in one month intensive teaching for beginners. We want to increase our social media presence and have some (even though we do say so ourselves) excellent stand alone ideas to do this. They are educational free formats that allow people to study Chinese online in creative ways. We don't know the best way to present them though. Should they be 'onsite' options through our main webpage,or would they be better served as stand alone entities with their own page and an affiliation to our main company website? Any thoughts and shared best practice would be greatly appreciated.
posted by tjabeijing on Nov 4, 2013 - 1 answer

Did Charles Babbage ever read Leibniz on logic?

Charles Babbage was a prominent member of the Analytical Society, and was at the very least intimately familiar with Leibniz's formulation of calculus. But did he ever read Leibniz's writings on logic? Did the Ars Combinatoria, or any of his writings on the "universal characteristic" or "calculus ratiocinator" influence Babbage's thinking about computation?
posted by wobdev on Nov 3, 2013 - 1 answer

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