In the vein of "squirrel away" or "ferret away" (and maybe even "badger"), I'm looking for a verb from the animal kingdom that means working hard at something, persistently and continually. It's come up a few times where I've wanted to say "Continue animaling away at the problem", but the particular beast I'm looking for eludes me. Help?
What do you call your smallest toe? [more inside]
Can anybody tell me what sort of writing this is, and what (if anything) it says?
I was playing around with Google's Ngram viewer and noticed this interesting graph. Any idea what drove the two peaks around 1885 and 1919?
On internet fora, it isn't uncommon to see people using abbreviations/textspeak. I've noticed Singaporean posters using particularly idiosyncratic versions of this: 'dun' for don't, 'den' for then, 'TT' for that. Example. What's the origin of this? [more inside]
My kids have asked me how to say a few things in English, but I realize the only terms I know were the racist terms used back when I was a kid. What are the current, non-offensive terms for these activities? [more inside]
I need a book on the different varieties of English, their spellings, grammar and punctuation and some info on vocabulary differences, too. But I'm having trouble finding one. [more inside]
I have a T-shirt with text in some kind of Arabic language, and I have no idea what it says (or even what language it says it in!) There's also a small triangular logo with an antelope and the word 'Zama'. Does anyone know A) what language it is, B) what it says and C) what the context is? [more inside]
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]
What does this cup say?
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]
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.)
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?
Do electric kids toys come with all languages, and are then switched to a particular language when they leave the factory?
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]
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]
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]
What's the origin of the now-archaic phrase "sift this matter to the bottom," meaning to make it a priority? [more inside]
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]
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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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!
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]
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]
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?
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?
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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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.
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]
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]
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]
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]
Where is this coin from, and what is it?
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]
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?
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]
Almost every time I speak Spanish to a Mexican they answer right back in English. [more inside]
Looking for a "webcomic" I saw somewhere on MetaFilter, no luck turning it back up. Details within. [more inside]
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.
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]
How to reconcile the differences between your origin and daily society? [more inside]
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]
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]