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1897 posts tagged with language.
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Is '-wallah' (as in chai-wallah) in any sense an offensive word?

Let's say you've been having a lot of conversations about finding a way to get certain isolated or repetitive tasks done. Some things can be handled by automation, so they get a '-bot'; others get done by a human, so they get a '-wallah'. But is there some manner in which '-wallah' could be taken to be derogatory, offensive, appropriation, insensitive, etc? [more inside]
posted by bartleby on Feb 19, 2014 - 53 answers

Is there a general term for phrases like "landline phone"?

I could swear that I have seen this on AskMe before, but I can't find it for the life of me. Is there a word for the situation in which something that used to be representable by a single word now needs two (or more) words? Like how "telephone" now sometimes has to be retroactively qualified as "landline phone" because of the advent of "mobile phones." "Analog watch" would be another example, I guess.
posted by slenderloris on Feb 13, 2014 - 19 answers

Local Paris television news online

I'm looking for daily local video news from Paris, France, in French, online. [more inside]
posted by Joleta on Feb 13, 2014 - 2 answers

Nemluvím česky

I'm trying to make language learning a daily habit on my bus commute, and looking for tips on making it work. [more inside]
posted by hannahlambda on Feb 12, 2014 - 12 answers

Like A Sailor

How can I swear better? I want to learn the art of swearing to broaden the range of my expression, be it to share joy, frustration, boredom or anything else. [more inside]
posted by squishles on Feb 8, 2014 - 36 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

Help me figure out the origin of this Italian-American slang word

I'm trying to figure out the origin of a particular Italian slang word my family uses that means "gaudy, tacky or overdone". [more inside]
posted by Thin Lizzy on Feb 1, 2014 - 29 answers

Data on perception of swearing/foul langauge, sorted demographically?

I'm looking for data on what is perceived as swearing, foul language, etc. - in other words, language that one person might correct another for using. In particular, I'm looking for information on how this varies according to demographics, and especially how it varies from one geographical area to another. (I'm in the U.S., and am primarily interested in U.S. data.) This doesn't have to be "scientifically accurate" information: an internet poll with enough recipients to be meaningful would be totally fine. Bonus points if the information addresses the perceived severity of the word: for example, while I'm sure there are words that are perceived as swears nearly universally in the US, I'd love to see data on how words like "damn" or "crap" would be rated in different areas.
posted by SpiralT on Jan 23, 2014 - 7 answers

term for fallacy of believing other minds are like your own?

When I was studying history of philosophy I remember encountering a term which I recall as being either 'historical monism' or 'psychological monism', which referred to the (posited) error of assuming, I think looking historically, that the psychology of other peoples was like your own. I.e. of assuming that you could reasonably attempt to understand their motivations &c. It might have had something to do with heiddegger? It seems unlikely that this would've involved the term 'monism', though, looking back, and I'm not having tons of luck with google. Any clues?
posted by cmyr on Jan 22, 2014 - 11 answers

What bullshit is my mom talking?

I was talking to my mom last night and at one point in the conversation, she wanted to call something bullshit, but she is extremely opposed to swearing, so she used a euphemism instead. It was so funny that my partner and I both burst out laughing when she said it, but neither of us can remember it now. Help me identify it! [more inside]
posted by Neely O'Hara on Jan 21, 2014 - 26 answers

Usenet author posting in justified paragraphs?

Does anyone know the name/email address of a guy who used to post to Usenet in the mid-1990s in justified text? (When rendered in a monospaced font.) [more inside]
posted by mstillwell on Jan 14, 2014 - 10 answers

Help me teach myself French

I have some very basic French language skills, and I would like to develop them to the level of working proficiency over the next few months (I am prepared to study hard). I am enrolled in a class and have a tutor. What are some other resources (preferably free ones) that I can work with my own time in order to accelerate my learning as much as possible? [more inside]
posted by Scientist on Jan 9, 2014 - 30 answers

BookFilter: English fiction with lots of Spanish language elements

I'm looking for recommendations of English-language fiction that heavily features Spanish-language elements. I'm working on learning Spanish again (I had 3 years in high school, about 10 years ago) and thought it would be fun and useful to read novels that incorporate Spanish heavily, kind of an immersion strategy. [more inside]
posted by sprocket87 on Dec 30, 2013 - 11 answers

Is there a word for "one word", like monosyllabic means "one syllable"?

Is there a word for "one word", like monosyllabic means "one syllable"?
posted by mikeand1 on Dec 12, 2013 - 13 answers

Russian Cursive

Where can I see numbered diagrams for handwriting each Cyrillic letter?
posted by slowlikemolasses on Dec 5, 2013 - 2 answers

English language movies featuring France or French

Looking for movie recommendations that feature French scenes, spoken French is good too. [more inside]
posted by ellieBOA on Dec 2, 2013 - 25 answers

Batman: Linguistic Origins

What are some examples of really easy/obvious etymological descents that most people aren't really aware of? I'm trying to prove to somebody that there are a lot of these in the english language but I've forgotten most of the interesting ones I used to know. [more inside]
posted by tehloki on Nov 22, 2013 - 27 answers

Can we ever see eye to eye? Body language idioms, please.

Trying to think of idioms / phrases that relate to body language, rather than just body parts. One example could be "to raise eyebrows". There must be others, but the web mostly came up with things like "in one ear and out the other", which isn't quite what I wanted. Suggestions appreciated.
posted by Prof Iterole on Nov 19, 2013 - 28 answers

Adrienne Rich poem

Poetry question: Do you think Adrienne Rich's "November 1968" is literally about burning leaves? Does she intend that month and year to mean something to the reader? Any other thoughts? [more inside]
posted by kalapierson on Nov 19, 2013 - 13 answers

to authenticate a lie

Is there a word that means to corroborate a lie? For example if one person says the sky is green and then another person confirms that they sky is green. Or is there a legal term for this as well in the sense of lying about statutes?
posted by skwint on Nov 16, 2013 - 13 answers

so question such askmefi very internet

What is the name and/or origin of the meme where intensifers/adverbs are placed before nouns? [more inside]
posted by i_am_a_fiesta on Nov 14, 2013 - 8 answers

What percentage of English words have three syllables?

What percentage of English words have three syllables?
posted by reverend cuttle on Nov 12, 2013 - 10 answers

Replacing guys

Whats a good group noun to replace guys? [more inside]
posted by Cannon Fodder on Nov 12, 2013 - 56 answers

Progressively Challenging Hindi Literature for the Novice Hindi Reader

I'm looking for Hindi books that progressively increase in difficulty. I'm a Hindi speaker that learned from my parents conversationally, but I have no grasp of the Devanagari script. I thought I could teach myself the script by rote, then work my way up through books of increasing difficulty similar to how I have read books in grade school in the USA. [more inside]
posted by brocrastinator on Nov 11, 2013 - 3 answers

Best book to learn how to write professionally and self-edit my own work

Recent job opportunity came up, and I have the chance to write semi-professionally for a small company. Think in the vein of writing movie reviews or reviewing software. Its professional writing, but there will be conceptual and thematic details involved, it's not simply writing staid copy. I would like to find a book that helps me hone my prose, and will teach me how to better edit and improve my work. [more inside]
posted by cascando on Nov 5, 2013 - 5 answers

Language school in Beijing needs social media advice.

Please help. I work for a language school that teaches Mandarin Chinese to foreigners inside China. We specialize in one month intensive teaching for beginners. We want to increase our social media presence and have some (even though we do say so ourselves) excellent stand alone ideas to do this. They are educational free formats that allow people to study Chinese online in creative ways. We don't know the best way to present them though. Should they be 'onsite' options through our main webpage,or would they be better served as stand alone entities with their own page and an affiliation to our main company website? Any thoughts and shared best practice would be greatly appreciated.
posted by tjabeijing on Nov 4, 2013 - 1 answer

Did Charles Babbage ever read Leibniz on logic?

Charles Babbage was a prominent member of the Analytical Society, and was at the very least intimately familiar with Leibniz's formulation of calculus. But did he ever read Leibniz's writings on logic? Did the Ars Combinatoria, or any of his writings on the "universal characteristic" or "calculus ratiocinator" influence Babbage's thinking about computation?
posted by wobdev on Nov 3, 2013 - 1 answer

inerment? innermet? enermunt?

What is the word (if any, apparently) for the misuse of a nonprofit's funds for personal uses? [more inside]
posted by cmoj on Nov 1, 2013 - 11 answers

Something that's lasted for a long time will continue to endure?

Is there a word to describe the idea that something that has proven its value for a long time (for example the music of Mozart) is likely to endure into the future? I remember reading something to this effect in Nassim Nicholas Taleb's Antifragile, but my a search of the index and my google fu fail me. TIA
posted by quidividi on Oct 19, 2013 - 18 answers

Czech lines

Czech speakers: are these 3 lines sensible to you? (They don't have to be perfect or poetic; I just wanted to make sure they're understandable.) They're google's Czech translation of an ancient Latin text. [more inside]
posted by kalapierson on Oct 12, 2013 - 5 answers

Looking for good Japanese podcasts/listening material

I'm planning on taking the JLPT N1 this December, but unfortunately between work and sleep I haven't been able to squeeze much study time in. Since I have a 2-hour commute every day, and sometimes an hour or two of travel during work as well, I reckon I can put it to good use by listening to spoken Japanese on my iPod. Can you recommend some interesting podcasts or radio programmes (downloadable/accessible without internet) that have a good coverage of N1 vocabulary? [more inside]
posted by monocot on Oct 8, 2013 - 7 answers

How is this song title pronounced?

[PronunciationFilter] The title is: Crathadh 't 'Aodaich & Zbadba from the album Mo-Di by the band Mouth Music. I think the title is Gaelic but I'm not sure. How would I say the title? Or what is a close approximation of the true pronunciation?
posted by zorm on Oct 4, 2013 - 4 answers

I am looking for ideas in teaching children spanish

I am new to teaching, and will be teaching spanish once a week for one hour to 8 or less children who are in reception and year 1 (4 to 6 years old). Do you have any ideas to what I can do? I have looked online and have some ideas but more are appreciated, I am quite nervous! [more inside]
posted by lovisa91 on Oct 3, 2013 - 8 answers

What's your experience navigating life errands as a non-native speaker?

What's your experience navigating life errands (especially grocery shopping) as a non-native English speaker in an English speaking country? Any experience as a non-native speaker in any country would work as well. This is for a research project. [more inside]
posted by lacedcoffee on Sep 30, 2013 - 25 answers

Heeft een van de commentatoren in deze video hebben W. Vlaamse accent?

Does one of the commentators in this video have a West Flemish accent? [more inside]
posted by wutangclan on Sep 27, 2013 - 4 answers

Could my language learning process be useful to someone?

My favorite way of learning a language is translating text back and forth. Could the translation work of a careful beginner be useful to anyone at all? [more inside]
posted by Sock of Silliness on Sep 16, 2013 - 12 answers

Gradual transition method of learning language?

Has anyone seen examples of a language-learning method where you begin reading (maybe along with audio narration or subtitled video) in English and over time the syntax and vocab gradually shift into the new language? If it's not a thing, can you imagine why not? If it is, can you help me find it?
posted by subarctic_guy on Sep 14, 2013 - 14 answers

Open Source: Foreign Language

I am looking for an open-source / commons repository of any spoken language. Preferably free, otherwise just well-formatted. [more inside]
posted by tintexas on Sep 11, 2013 - 6 answers

Tips/strategies/advice to improve my intermediate Spanish?

Do you have suggestions for the best ways to improve my intermediate-level Spanish, take advantage of immersion here in Argentina for the next few months, and ease up on anxiety/overthinking when speaking so I can be more fluid and fluent? My top priority for improvement is listening comprehension, followed by clarity, speed/fluidity, and confidence in speaking. [more inside]
posted by EmilyClimbs on Sep 10, 2013 - 7 answers

How can I type stress marks on Mac OS using the Russian keyboard?

How can I type stress marks on Mac OS X using the Russian keyboard? I'm talking about, for example, the ´ marks like in "Соединённые Шта́ты Аме́рики"—the а́ and the е́. Thank you! [more inside]
posted by reductiondesign on Sep 9, 2013 - 10 answers

Seeking Russian learning resources

I'd like more and better (preferably Internet-based) resources for learning Russian. Cyrillic alphabet instruction not needed. Details inside. [more inside]
posted by graymouser on Sep 8, 2013 - 9 answers

Congratulations! (as applicable!)

What phrases are reflexively on the tip of your tongue? [more inside]
posted by Chorus on Sep 5, 2013 - 33 answers

Shortcuts for identifying languages.

Even before this language quiz was featured over in the blue, I've been meaning to ask this question: What are some handy ways to distinguish between a particular language or regional variation and its closest counterparts, based just on a few words, a certain cadence, or unique kind of pronunciation. [more inside]
posted by umbú on Sep 4, 2013 - 8 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

"Noble Salvage" as a name for an antique business: inspired or lame?

Give me your opinion about my stupid smart business name idea. [more inside]
posted by crazylegs on Aug 26, 2013 - 76 answers

Tips & tricks for capturing the 'voice' of a piece of fiction?

How do you go about consciously aping the voice/tone/style of a particular genre of fiction or writer? [more inside]
posted by Erberus on Aug 24, 2013 - 8 answers

Good online database solutions that hold images?

I'm looking for a good online database app thingy that would let 50 teachers and 200 students easily and quickly input sentences in two languages *as well as pictures* and be easily searchable by all participants in the future. Any ideas? [more inside]
posted by sdis on Aug 19, 2013 - 4 answers

Norwegian wood?

A family heirloom has a mysterious inscription in what I assume is a Scandinavian language. But what is it? [more inside]
posted by theory on Aug 13, 2013 - 8 answers

World's funniest Youtube clips?

I recently discovered Têtes à claques. It's addictive and frickin' hilarious, and has done more for me to pick up Quebec French than any book or class. What similar stuff exists in other languages? [more inside]
posted by wutangclan on Aug 4, 2013 - 3 answers

Parlez-vous francais? No. Not for 13 years.

I graduated high school having been in french immersion and when I graduated I did the testing and I was offically bilingual. Hurray! However, that was over 10 years ago and I have hardly spoken it since I graduated. Now, suddenly, my job wants me to get my french proficiency tested to see if I can satisfy the required language requirements for my branch. (We need to have X# of people able to speak French because a percent of our clients speak french as their first language, and right now we're down a person apparently). Au secours! [more inside]
posted by PuppetMcSockerson on Jul 30, 2013 - 12 answers

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