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Wer ist der deutsche Le Petit Nicolas?

My wife has a birthday coming up and I'd like to surprise her with a German book or two that she would be able to read... Eventually. [more inside]
posted by emelenjr on Sep 19, 2014 - 12 answers

Making up vocabulary words?

Is there a word that means "discriminating on the basis of religion"? The closest thing I can think of is "creedist", which isn't an actual word. Is there a word that means what "creedist" would mean if it were a word that existed? Thanks!
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper on Sep 18, 2014 - 16 answers

Secret languages of couples

I'm looking for a (Tolstoy?) quote about how couples develop a private language based on shared references and experiences, and how it's tragic when a couple breaks up because this language is lost. [more inside]
posted by Paul the Octopus on Sep 16, 2014 - 12 answers

How should I go about becoming fluent in Chinese?

TLDR: I'm in a serious relationship with a girl whose whole family is native Shanghainese speakers. They are ok Mandarin speakers. If I'm gonna be with her long-term (seems likely), I want to have a relationship with her family and feel like I need to learn either Mandarin (or Shanghainese -- open to that). So I need strategies to get as fluent as possible as efficiently as possible. I can spend whatever I need to on this. Can't go live in China for a while, though can at some point in the distant future maybe. I live in NYC. More after the jump. [more inside]
posted by wooh on Sep 15, 2014 - 13 answers

Why do anti-feminists use "female" rather than "woman"?

Anti-feminists seem to often use the word "female" in the noun form, in places where people would ordinarily just use "women." (I don't want to spend a lot of time hunting up evidence of this, but here are some examples. There's also this and this.) I'm curious to know how/why this became a thing -- for example, I've wondered if it has something to do with military or police usage, because those are the only places I've previously noticed women being referred to as females. Does anybody know?
posted by Susan PG on Sep 12, 2014 - 45 answers

Je ne suis pas un escroc.

There are countless films and TV shows (often but not always period pieces) that are set in France/Germany/Russia/Japan/etc but which feature an Anglophone cast, speaking English (with the occasional "bonjour" or whatever), playing French/German/Russian/Japanese/etc characters. What are some examples of the reverse? That is, non-English productions set in the US or UK, with e.g. French actors playing Richard Nixon or Queen Elizabeth?
posted by theodolite on Sep 9, 2014 - 9 answers

How to make sense of this body language?

I'm in a situation at work where I am picking up signals from a colleague that he is interested in me. I have come to return his interest. But I am single and as far as I can tell, he is not. So I wonder how to interpret his behavior: is he doing it unwittingly? Unintentionally? If intentionally, why? [more inside]
posted by macinchik on Sep 7, 2014 - 28 answers

Going to Prague and Budapest; should I bone up on my German?

I have heard that German is somewhat of a lingua franca throughout Eastern Europe. Would it be a more useful backup language than English when visiting Prague and Budapest? I will also be learning basic phrases in Hungarian and Czech. More details inside! [more inside]
posted by rednikki on Sep 6, 2014 - 11 answers

Title of 80s/90s film with "disinterested" vs. "uninterested" argument

I'm looking for a film that I saw in the 80s or 90s in which two of the characters argued throughout about the proper definitions of "disinterested" and "uninterested." Both characters were male and were, I believe, the main characters. I'm fairly certain that the film was British.
posted by danslos on Sep 1, 2014 - 5 answers

"You know who talks about race?! RACISTS."

What's it called when someone accuses someone of pointing out an injustice as perpetrating that injustice by describing it? Is there a name for this rhetorical device? An example would be in Jon Stewart's recent segment about Ferguson where a news anchor was quoted as saying "You know who talks about race?! RACISTS." [more inside]
posted by wrabbit on Aug 30, 2014 - 14 answers

Inversion of "Cogito ergo sum"?

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]
posted by churl on Aug 27, 2014 - 7 answers

Give me your most jargon-filled work-related statements

I love jargon, especially among sub-genres of things. This week a web developer friend uttered a sentence about frameworks and databases that made sense but sounded so ridiculous I had to stop and ask him to repeat it. I'd like to hear more of these. Please give me the most jargon-filled sentence that you might have uttered at work in the past few weeks and made complete sense to coworkers, but sounds utterly ridiculous to outsiders, and state what your occupation/context was for it.
posted by mathowie on Aug 14, 2014 - 33 answers

In Japanese, why is the demonstrative "あそこ" instead of just "あこ"?

Japanese demonstratives follow the こそあど pattern, such as with これ/それ/あれ/どれ and この/その/あの/どの, so why does the pattern change with ここ/そこ/あそこ/どこ? Logically, shouldn't あそこ be あこ? Why isn't this the case? [more inside]
posted by reductiondesign on Aug 13, 2014 - 3 answers

Example of Japanese-speaker singing Disney song phonetically in English?

I've been digging for about a week and I can't find audio examples of a japanese-speaker singing Disney songs phonetically in English. I know it's a thing, because I think I remember being shown this sort of thing vis-a-vis The Circle of Life a few years back by someone who was bilingual, and I got the impression from the number of videos then that this was a common practice among Japanese (and maybe other Asian countries?) kids to do. Can someone find me a link? Or give me better search terms? [more inside]
posted by ABlanca on Aug 12, 2014 - 2 answers

Looking for a term: mispronouncing a word you've only ever read

Mr. sixswitch and I both have a common experience of precocious kids: trying out words that we've learned from reading in conversation, with tragic results. I pronounced disheveled as dis-heveled (because obviously you could also be heveled), he said 'doicksiem' instead of 'deuxième', and so on right up til yesterday (chassiss for chassis). Is there a linguistics term or nickname for this type of thing? [more inside]
posted by sixswitch on Aug 12, 2014 - 44 answers

What are some good ways to learn languages at home with a toddler?

How can I help my toddler learn a new language? Is there something that we'd also enjoy and learn from, as a family? There was a previous post, without any leads, beyond Pocoyo. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 8, 2014 - 8 answers

What is this coin?

Where is this coin from, and what is it?
posted by saeculorum on Aug 5, 2014 - 13 answers

Wanted: software to tag words and phrases when studying a language

I'm studying Japanese. I want to tag and track individual words and grammatical structures that I'm learning. What software will help me do this? [more inside]
posted by kristi on Jul 24, 2014 - 1 answer

Language for dates

Help settle this bet/communication issue. Pretend it's this past Monday, July 14th. You and several friends get an email about another friend's upcoming birthday party. The note says the party is next Saturday. Do you think the party is Saturday the 19th or Saturday the 26th?
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jul 15, 2014 - 44 answers

What makes someone unattractive?

I'm a young woman without much luck in romantic relationships. I think I may have a problem with my behavior and body language because I'm introverted and I'd like to understand it and maybe gain some control over it. [more inside]
posted by poilkj on Jul 11, 2014 - 28 answers

Why won't Mexicans speak Spanish with me?

Almost every time I speak Spanish to a Mexican they answer right back in English. [more inside]
posted by Che boludo! on Jul 8, 2014 - 86 answers

Finding a "Webcomic"

Looking for a "webcomic" I saw somewhere on MetaFilter, no luck turning it back up. Details within. [more inside]
posted by xenization on Jul 6, 2014 - 4 answers

Hey, Chinese speakers . . . got a question for you

Actually, that should read "Hey, readers of Chinese script, etc". Recently, some of my neighbors took exception to the opening of a homeless shelter in my neighborhood. They held a protest. Some of the signs were in Chinese. What do these signs say in English, if you've got a moment? Many thanks in advance.
posted by jason's_planet on Jul 1, 2014 - 2 answers

What was this cartoon with a cross-language pun?

As a kid, I saw part of a cartoon aimed at bilingual (Korean + English) children. The plot involved a bunch of children on some sort of fantastic quest or journey. The scene I remember most clearly is one where they're being riddled/quizzed by something (I remember it as a floating light, but it might've been some kind of creature or robot or something). It asks for the name of the backmost teeth, and the youngest of the children answers "몰라" ("I don't know"; pronounced molah, which the riddler interprets as "molar") [more inside]
posted by kagredon on Jun 30, 2014 - 2 answers

State of Being Other

How to reconcile the differences between your origin and daily society? [more inside]
posted by chrono_rabbit on Jun 27, 2014 - 12 answers

A catchier way to say "Nice Meeting You" / "Let's get together again"?

Looking for words or short phrases that represent the idea that it was "Nice Meeting You" or "we will see each other again" or maybe "let's hang out again sometime soon." The best I've got so far is "Ciao," which may be perfect - it means hello and goodbye, and it's kind of informal. [more inside]
posted by jander03 on Jun 20, 2014 - 32 answers

Tedium, tedii, tedio

I'm teaching a three-hour daily intensive college Latin class. Help me come up with ideas to relieve the mind-numbing boredom of endless drills and "The queen sent the letter to the citizens"-type sentences. [more inside]
posted by hoist with his own pet aardvark on Jun 20, 2014 - 16 answers

Why do some people write "1950ies", "1980ies", etc?

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 - 11 answers

"Learn English" videos for Spanish speakers who aren't literate?

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 - 5 answers

Heritage Speaker Guilt

How can I deal with this nagging sense of guilt that I should know more Chinese than I presently do? Or, how can I improve my Chinese as a busy twenty-something year-old? [more inside]
posted by gemutlichkeit on Jun 10, 2014 - 9 answers

Zound changes at the beginning of sentences

Linguistics: Can the beginning of a sentence or phrase be a conditioning environment for sound variation? [more inside]
posted by Thing on May 30, 2014 - 6 answers

Ottoman Turk translation help?

How would one write "The Fast Ones" in Ottoman-era Turkish? I'm making a mildly humorous sign for a Turkish friend, and for various reasons I'm pretending it's Ottoman-era (1650). [more inside]
posted by aramaic on May 29, 2014 - 2 answers

Need an accurate English to Latin translation.

A friend of mine wants to get another tattoo, and the phrase he's picked to get inked is this: "I am the angel of death, not mercy." He would like for the ink to be in Latin, so obviously he wants to make sure the translation is spot-on. Any Latin scholars able to help with this? Thank you so much!
posted by shiu mai baby on May 14, 2014 - 10 answers

How to write Australian dialog

Short of being in Australia*, I'm writing a story that takes part in Sydney, Australia. Are there any online resources, etc. that could give me an idea who to write dialog that an Australian citizen would speak (certain phrases, slang, etc). *(Warning to Australia, I'll be visiting next year)
posted by acquiredtarget on May 6, 2014 - 21 answers

Bring Your Own Device to Play-Work

How nice is too nice of an electronic use policy? [more inside]
posted by alice_curiouse on May 6, 2014 - 12 answers

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

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