1920 posts tagged with language.
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How to get around in Central Asia without knowing the languages?

I'm thinking of taking a solo trip to one or more of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. What's the language situation like in central Asia? How dumb an idea is this if I don't speak any Uzbek, Kazakh, or Russian (but do stick to the larger and more touristy cities and methods of transportation)? [more inside]
posted by xbonesgt on Oct 21, 2014 - 6 answers

Words are hard.

What does this cup say?
posted by Marinara on Oct 20, 2014 - 3 answers

Help me spend someone else's money!

I have the opportunity to request materials related to my discipline for my community college library. What should a language teacher ask for? [more inside]
posted by chainsofreedom on Oct 20, 2014 - 2 answers

English news sources for non-predominantly English countries?

Something that often frustrates me reading the newspaper or stories on the internet is that a majority of the "current serious issues" things are going to come from Western English-speaking countries. Can you recommend websites that provide English news about fairly non-English countries? (From my Australian perspective these include anywhere in Africa, Russia, India, Eastern Europe, so on.)
posted by solarion on Oct 18, 2014 - 25 answers

ESL resources for non-native ASL Speaker

I'm working with a woman who is in an interesting situation. She is deaf and was born and raised in Somalia. She learned ASL when she moved to the US a few years ago. She is now trying to learn to read and write English to improve her communication skills. Are there any good English learning resources for individuals who use ASL as their primary language?
posted by chara on Oct 15, 2014 - 2 answers

Can kids toys be switched to different languages?

Do electric kids toys come with all languages, and are then switched to a particular language when they leave the factory?
posted by devnull on Oct 13, 2014 - 4 answers

Bees and wasps

Is the distinction between a bee and a wasp different in British and American English? What about Biene/Wespe in German or cognates in other languages? [more inside]
posted by neat graffitist on Oct 7, 2014 - 50 answers

Conversation-heavy movie/show/video in French or Japanese?

I would like to go back to speaking French and Japanese and found out that it really comes back to me better after listening to people having everyday conversations in a more "natural" setting (rather than podcasts, news, etc.). Where can I find some conversation-heavy videos to watch/listen to? [more inside]
posted by perkinite on Oct 6, 2014 - 6 answers

Spanish/Portuguese term for Captain of Emergencies in the Age of Sail?

Years ago, someone from Portugal mentioned a concept and position on large European seafaring boats, who was on the boat to ward off disaster, or to take the helm if one occurred. They said there was a word in Portuguese for this concept - someone who is prized for being able to rescue catastrophic situations. Does anyone know this word or concept? [more inside]
posted by metasj on Oct 6, 2014 - 3 answers

Sift this matter to the bottom....

What's the origin of the now-archaic phrase "sift this matter to the bottom," meaning to make it a priority? [more inside]
posted by mudpuppie on Oct 6, 2014 - 6 answers

Help me plan a trip to maximize language learning

I have the opportunity to go abroad for an extended period time. My goal and purpose would be to strengthen my skills in a foreign language. How can I structure this trip so that this happens? [more inside]
posted by metacognition on Oct 6, 2014 - 9 answers

Seeking secular language for powerful experience

This year someone very close to me was hurt very badly and then, to my great shock and relief, he recovered fully. I'm still processing this experience and probably always will be. I'm frustrated that the words that I have to best describe what he went through are often religious. I don't believe in god and neither does the person who was injured. I did not think that he would ever be the same again. The fact that he is is "miraculous," to be with him now is "a blessing" -- but it's not. The best-fit way I know to phrase it is "it's a miracle of modern science!" I'd appreciate help finding a truly secular vocabulary that captures the power of what he (and I) went through. [more inside]
posted by palegirl on Oct 2, 2014 - 24 answers

Language for the purpose of study, travel and maybe work in Europe.

What European language should I learn for the purpose of higher studies, work, and extensive travelling in Europe? I am a bibliophile, cinephile, and love songs with good and meaningful lyrics. Till now I've been enjoying all these, I mean the ones from Europe, in the form of translations and with the help of subtitles. (I write too; not to publish but it's very important to me). [more inside]
posted by amar on Sep 27, 2014 - 21 answers

Rolled R-less cultures

In which cultures/countries is it RARE for people to be able to sustain a tongue-rolled R? (Say, fewer than 1 in 10 people can do it?) In this case I mean sustain artificially long, say for 3 seconds.
posted by kalapierson on Sep 25, 2014 - 12 answers

Why Does My English Suck?

I have been speaking English for 2/3 of my life, yet I still think my English sucks. Care to enlighten me why? [more inside]
posted by pixxie on Sep 23, 2014 - 37 answers

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 - 46 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 - 2 answers

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

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