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 -
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 -
I'm on a dating site and I've noticed that in the profiles and messages of some non-native English speakers there's a pattern of irregular spacing around commas. I don't believe that it is a random typographical error, as I have seen it repeatedly by different writers.
Here's an example: "I like to go to the party ,park,movies ,I like to go hike ,swimming ,travel "
The above example is from a native Arabic speaker. Is this related to the grammatical construction of a particular language, differences in keyboards, or something else?
posted by aspen1984
on Aug 29, 2013 -
Kind of curious about this. I know Shadowrun does/did well in Germany, and has/had at least a nominal presence in Japan. One of the (for good or ill) characteristics of the setting is the jargon and street slang. How are these translated into other languages? What are some examples?
posted by curious nu
on Jul 26, 2013 -
I'm looking for lines of dialogue from movies, novels, or elsewhere, in which someone says that something is not an X, even though it is
an X, just not a mere X or typical X. An example of the type of exchange I'm looking for: "Wow, you spent a year's salary on a car?" "A car? This is isn't a car
. It's a Lamborghini!" The second person knows that their Lamborghini is a car, but means to express that it isn't just
a car. (It's important for my purposes that the person doesn't say 'just'.) There must be some recognizable instances of this type of speech, but I'm drawing a blank. Any ideas?
posted by painquale
on Jul 7, 2013 -
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!
posted by Monkey0nCrack
on May 16, 2013 -
In English, scientists customarily use the word "significant" or "statistically significant" to refer to an effect that is distinguished from zero at a p < .05 confidence level. On the other hand, the word "significant" in non-technical English carries a connotation of being meaningful, important, or substantial; this creates confusion when researchers write about "a significant effect," since the effect might be significant in the statistical sense while being so small as to be insignificant in the common-English sense.
In your native language, what word is used for "signficance" in the statistical context? Is the same word used outside the technical context, and if so, is it a word whose common meaning is something more like "detectable," more like "important," or something else entirely? In particular, does the confusion that arises in English also take place in your language?
posted by escabeche
on Apr 24, 2013 -
How come that various forms of the verb "to be" have different degrees of similarity across German/English/Romance languages? The third person singular ist/is/est seems to have an obvious common root, whereas I don't see it jump out on me for bin/am/suis at all, and in other forms it seems like German and French are close with English the odd one out (sind/sommes/are), which I found puzzling given that I usually think of English as the bastard child of these two.
posted by themel
on Mar 31, 2013 -
'Think tank' and 'thought leader' not 'thought tank' and 'think leader'. Can you help me construct a good argument for why we have settled on the first two and not the second? [more inside]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken
on Mar 17, 2013 -
I found some stone tablets written in a strange alphabet amongst a bunch of graves from different eras at the city museum of Tire, Turkey
. The guy working the desk at the museum didn't know what they were. Pictures in extended. [more inside]
posted by Theiform
on Mar 15, 2013 -
Are grammatical genders, as a rule, consistent across the Indo-European languages which use them? [more inside]
posted by obloquy
on Dec 4, 2012 -
Which language is claimed to have shifted between language families? [more inside]
posted by Jehan
on Oct 14, 2012 -
Is there a word or term for not being able to understand a word of a language, but still being able to correctly recognize
it if you hear it? For example, if I hear someone speaking German, Italian, Portuguese, French, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, or Mongolian, I can probably correctly identify that they’re speaking said language they’re speaking EVEN THOUGH I can’t understand a thing they’re saying. Has this been studied before? [more inside]
posted by huxham
on Jul 19, 2012 -
Do we cry over spilt milk or spilled milk? My spell checker says the latter but I remember the former. [more inside]
posted by patheral
on May 9, 2012 -
Help me sort out the best way to approach language preservation, as an academic interest and as a guideline for volunteer work. [more inside]
posted by mammary16
on Feb 21, 2012 -
In Korean, the words for 'mom' and 'dad', respectively, are umma and appa. In Hebrew (maybe other Semitic languages, too), they are ima and abba. Is there a link between Korean (maybe other east Asian languages?) and the Semitic languages?
posted by KingoftheWhales
on Sep 22, 2011 -
"American English is like a mugger in a back alley who, instead of taking your wallet, takes your pocket dictionary".
I read a quote in this vein a while ago and I'm trying to identify the actual quote and the source.
posted by chara
on Sep 12, 2011 -
Is there any data out there relating to the relative speeds that different spoken languages can express human thought? [more inside]
posted by merocet
on Jul 20, 2011 -
A textbook that I once read contained a passage from some famous author (possibly Mark Twain?) that attempted to illustrate the usefulness of jargon by describing how to saddle a horse, or hitch a horse to a wagon (something like that) without using any specialized terminology. It was marvelously long-winded and impossible to follow. Textbook long since discarded, Google-Fu fails; any idea what this might have been?
posted by lordcorvid
on Jul 2, 2011 -
Can I compute how frequently a word occurs in general English text
? I have a list of about 2000 words, and I want to sort it with the most common words first. [more inside]
posted by Chicken Boolean
on Mar 28, 2011 -
What are these phrases called? Examples: "amazingly odd and oddly amazing"; "terribly basic and basically terrible"; "embarrassingly hot and hotly embarrassing". I could swear I came across a name for this type of word pairing once before (quite possibly on this very site, in which case sorry), but my searches to find it again have been hopelessly awful and awfully hopeless. [more inside]
posted by d11
on Feb 12, 2011 -
I'm trying to write Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg, in latin characters. I have nearly all the literature on this -- the problem is, there are a variety of proposed systems, and all of them seem to be based on a largely impractical phonetic alphabet. Most of the proposed alphabets are around 36 to 50 letters, rendering it largely ineffective, especially when trying to teach writing to illiterate native speakers or second language learners. [more inside]
posted by iamck
on Oct 2, 2010 -
in english, for the most part, it's vowel sounds that differ across regional accents. in other languages i've studied (italian, hungarian), consonant transpositions seem to be more common. what gives? or am i even drawing accurate conclusions? [more inside]
posted by nevers
on Jul 13, 2010 -
Can you reccommend a good, in-depth primer on grammar? I don't mean where to use a comma, but rather a clear definition of, for example, nominative, accusative, dative and genitive cases. What exactly are tense, mood, person, number, and voice. That kind of thing. [more inside]
posted by Nothing
on Jun 6, 2010 -
So what do you know about "sugar", "sugar diabetes", or "the sugar" being used as synonyms for "diabetes"? And how did that meaning come to be, exactly? [more inside]
posted by skoosh
on Mar 6, 2010 -
Looking for reciprocal of "Engrish" on two counts: 1) Asians imitating "how Americans(/Anglophones) talk" with gibberish, and 2) Asians making fun of "how Americans(/Anglophones) talk" with heavy English/American accents on their own language. seeking audio and/or video for entertainment and cultural edification. [more inside]
posted by herbplarfegan
on Feb 25, 2010 -
Sacrifice, speech, writing and art: I am interested in the different ways in which a sacrifice, a sacrament, a spoken word and a written word act as signifiers. The notion for instance that the sacrament, at the point of its acceptance, is understood as becoming
the signified. What can you tell me / what has been written about the notions of sacrifice and their relationship to speech, art and the technologies of writing? [more inside]
posted by 0bvious
on Feb 24, 2010 -
Linguisticsfilter: I'm looking for experiments that reveal something surprising or fascinating about the way we use and respond to language. [more inside]
posted by mossicle
on Dec 3, 2009 -
Can anyone point me to a resource where I can learn construction industry-related lingo? [more inside]
posted by eliina
on Nov 22, 2009 -
I'm very seriously considering the foreign service, but I've never been any good at languages. Will I likely be able to learn a language, with the intense training the Foreign Service provides, without a natural apptitude for languages? [more inside]
posted by anonymous
on Nov 18, 2009 -
I'm looking for "black best friend" supporting characters in movies who also come with a black love interest. I'm interested in their language patterns and dialect usage. [more inside]
posted by ms.codex
on Nov 9, 2009 -
Looking for podcasts or radio shows with women talking in Mancunian accents or similar Northern English accents. [more inside]
posted by reenum
on Sep 5, 2009 -