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, ...)?
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]
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]
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]
"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]
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]
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]
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?
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]
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?
I urgently need this Latin sentence translated. Thank you! [more inside]
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]
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!
Need help finding foreign language editions of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. [more inside]
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]
Explain the nuanced difference in meaning between "also" or "too" in this sentence: "We repair your motorcycle too." vs "We repair your motorcycle also."
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.
Toward a better definition of "bogan;" gender differences in everday speech; an American tourist speaking without giving offense? [more inside]
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]
Is there a word in the English language that means a person who owns nothing? [more inside]
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]
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]
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?
Walking 'abreast' means walking side-by-side. What equivalent word means walking single-file? [more inside]
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!
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]
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?
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]
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.
Bemused: I do not think it means what you think it means. So what word does? [more inside]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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]
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???
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).
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.
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.
I'm going to Paris this week. I need a haircut. Something fashionable. I barely speak any French. Where should I go, and how do I handle the language barrier without leading to a terrible haircut or uncomfortable situation with the stylist?
What is the word/phrase Ami and Yumi say at the beginning of nearly every episode of Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show? It sounds like "soo-tah-toe," phonetically. DOT Jr. is a huge fan, so in our household, this is a question of some importance. As seen in this clip.
I'm putting together a book that contains text in all the United Nations languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. I've had each text proofread individually, but now I'm sitting wondering. How can I make sure I haven't missed something blindingly obvious in the formatting or layout of the entire book? [more inside]
I work with many (Latin American) Spanish speaking families. I would like to be able to communicate with them, even a little. Help me figure out a realistic plan to acquire more language skills this summer. [more inside]
Tell me about what cultures, cultural practices, arts, religions, languages, lifestyles, hobbies, habits, fashion, unconventional individuals/families, or any other aspects of human life in the U.S. still remain severely underdocumented; or are at risk of fading away before they can be properly or meaningfully documented. [more inside]
We are working on simple machine language in computer science for data manipulation. All the other problems I have gotten through but this last one. Here is the problem: "Write a short program in machine language to perform requested activity. Assume the program is placed in memory starting at address 00- -If the value stored in memory location 44 is 00, then place the value 01 in memory location 46; otherwise, put the value FF in memory location 46." Lots of questions inside DX Working with very basic Op-code and Operand setups. [more inside]
I want to make this shawl, and I can read the diagram for the most part, but I can't quite get the measurements figured out. Can anyone tell me roughly what the directions say? I'm pretty sure it's in Russian. I'd really appreciate it.
I once read a language encyclopedia which had the Lord's Prayer printed in lots of different languages. I'm looking for the same thing (not necessarily the Lord's Prayer), but audio. I want to hear a passage translated into many different languages and real aloud. I've exhausted my Google skills. Anyone know of such a source?
I'm learning Spanish. I'd like to take tablet or paper-based resources with me on an upcoming trip to keep the momentum going, but won't have internet access during that time. What should I take? [more inside]
I was reading this comment by KathrynT about men's perceptions of women in groups being equal in number when the no. of women is 17%, women having to comprise over 80% of group members to get equal speaking time with men. I'd really like to know where this came from, about gender and language more widely, gender and misperceptions generally. I'm looking for book recommendations but am also interested in anything else you think is a good resource - blogs, articles etc. [more inside]
We are an American-Japanese family living in the US. We have a 4 year old and a 1 year old who we would like to raise as bilingual as possible. We read both English storybooks and Japanese storybooks, but would love your recommendations for some books that have the story in both English and Japanese side-by-side. Would also be happy to hear about books readily available in both languages. Bonus points if you can vouch for the quality of the story and the translation. (Have you ever read "Goodnight Moon" in Japanese? It's not pretty.) [more inside]