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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

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

"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

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'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

What's going on with the comma placement ,here?

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 - 13 answers

How is the jargon in Shadowrun translated in other languages?

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 - 4 answers

Looking for dialogue with a certain form

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 - 16 answers

List of simple word roots

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 - 6 answers

How do you say "statistically significant" in your native language?

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 - 5 answers

Cocktail party linguistics

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 - 6 answers

Think Thank Thought Leader

'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 - 7 answers

What ancient Anatolian alphabet is this?

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 - 12 answers

Would Chalky White really have sounded like that?

Does anyone have any resources to find historical forms of Ebonics? [more inside]
posted by patricking on Dec 15, 2012 - 11 answers

Grammatical gender consistency across languages

Are grammatical genders, as a rule, consistent across the Indo-European languages which use them? [more inside]
posted by obloquy on Dec 4, 2012 - 30 answers

Passion for learning languages

How can I find a passion for language learning? [more inside]
posted by querty on Nov 27, 2012 - 21 answers

Everything about (first/bilingual) language acquisition

Tell me everything about teaching kids how to speak and read and write. [more inside]
posted by pracowity on Oct 16, 2012 - 19 answers

Which languages is claimed to have switched families?

Which language is claimed to have shifted between language families? [more inside]
posted by Jehan on Oct 14, 2012 - 6 answers

Help me get this linguistics joke?

Linguistics! Can you guys explain the joke in this image, which represents how different languages get from point A to point B? [more inside]
posted by Pwoink on Sep 30, 2012 - 13 answers

Research/studies on language recognition

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 - 12 answers

Crying over spilt milk, or is it spilled?

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 - 31 answers

How to teach myself Latin?

I want to teach myself Latin. Where should I start? What are some good resources? Is it feasible? [more inside]
posted by moons in june on Apr 29, 2012 - 15 answers

Why do we write 1st but not 2:00pm?

Why do we write 1st but not 2:00pm? [more inside]
posted by denriguez on Apr 14, 2012 - 19 answers

Write the number dow-uhn

Why the two-syllable pronunciation of "nine" for the telephone? [more inside]
posted by activitystory on Feb 24, 2012 - 12 answers

What are common pronunciation mistakes English speakers make in other languages?

I just found a list of common pronunciation mistakes English learners make depending on their first language background. What are typical pronunciation mistakes English speakers make when learning other languages? [more inside]
posted by soma lkzx on Feb 22, 2012 - 44 answers

The death and life of languages

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 - 16 answers

Aunt In-Law Once Removed?

What do you call your brother-in-law's mom? [more inside]
posted by janelikes on Jan 10, 2012 - 36 answers

You say ukuleleist; I say ukulelist.

Question for the language types: which is correct, ukuleleist, or ukulelist? [more inside]
posted by chez shoes on Dec 8, 2011 - 19 answers

Are Korean and Hebrew languages related?

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 - 19 answers

"Hand over your adjectives and no one gets hurt!"

"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 - 4 answers

How fast can you say the same thing?

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 - 18 answers

Harnessing without jargon?

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 - 3 answers

Mystery Pen Inscription

What is this language or cipher found on a pen, and what does it say? [more inside]
posted by Gordafarin on Jun 27, 2011 - 4 answers

Word Frequency Counts

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 - 27 answers

"Amazingly odd and oddly amazing" - is there a name for this kind of phrase?

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 - 16 answers

How does Lionel Logue sound Aussie in The King's Speech?

What features mark Geoffrey Rush's character in The King's Speech as being Australian? [more inside]
posted by Gordafarin on Jan 29, 2011 - 31 answers

What are the rules governing English word-substitution into South Asian news broadcasts?

What are the rules governing English word-substitution into South Asian news broadcasts (ex: this S. Tendulkar interview)? Why is it done, when is it done, and what does it connote? [more inside]
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj on Dec 13, 2010 - 7 answers

Practical transcription of Tamashek

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 - 14 answers

English words and terms that have changed meaning?

What are some English words and terms that have changed meaning significantly in the last century or so? [more inside]
posted by Dandeson Coates, Sec'y on Sep 8, 2010 - 69 answers

what affects the variables in a language's regional accents?

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 - 23 answers

Can you reccommend a good, in-depth primer on grammar?

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 - 16 answers

Mame-loshn?

Is Yiddish a creole? [more inside]
posted by ennui.bz on Mar 16, 2010 - 13 answers

How did "sugar" come to mean "diabetes"?

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 - 32 answers

unknown language-use stereotypes sought from the recieving end

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 - 14 answers

Sacrifice, speech, writing and art

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 - 8 answers

Seeking language experiments!

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 - 9 answers

Source for construction industry lingo?

Can anyone point me to a resource where I can learn construction industry-related lingo? [more inside]
posted by eliina on Nov 22, 2009 - 1 answer

Yeah once I ordered coffee in Chile in French, but it sounded right at the time.

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 - 7 answers

AAVE, AAE, BEV, whatever we call it nowadays, in the movies.

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 - 35 answers

I love listening to people from Northern England

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 - 6 answers

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