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]
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]
Can anyone recommend a beginner level English language tutorial series for Spanish speakers who cannot read or write in either language?
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]
Linguistics: Can the beginning of a sentence or phrase be a conditioning environment for sound variation? [more inside]
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]
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!
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)
How nice is too nice of an electronic use policy? [more inside]
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]
I'm a fast reader in English. I want to get faster at reading in Russian (in which I am fluent, but rarely use at this point). How can I do this?
I need to return to my French language oral fluency by mid-October. What are your best tips and tricks to resuscitate your language skills? Websites? Podcasts? Structured systems? [more inside]
My company currently has a computer that has a Japanese version of Windows 7 Professional installed on it. We want to install an English language version of Windows 8.1 on the computer. Will the language for the Microsoft Office software (currently also Japanese) already installed on the computer also change to English when we change to the new English language version of Windows 8.1? [more inside]
Does anyone remember a recent article by (I think) a linguist whose main point was defending the colloquial use of "like", as a way to explicate internal monologue in a way that wasn't really done before? For obvious reasons this is very hard to google for. I don't remember if I saw it here on Metafilter or some other source.
Search results indicate this term being used synonymously with "mad scramble", but also as something to do with sports tournaments. Apart from being evocative, does it mean anything specific?
Asking for a friend. Said friend is: A) Tired of writing "synonyms and antonyms" over and over B) Trying to shorten the paper she's writing that contains this phrase. [more inside]
I'm an atheist with a God problem. My exclamations of surprise, disgust and frustration usually take the form of "Oh my God" or "Jesus Christ!" or "Holy shit". I want to find some new - preferably safe for work and young ears - versions of my favorite exclamations that have the same import and emphasis that I so enjoy from the current ones. [more inside]
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?
Hi, folks. Through work and study, I achieved fluency in Spanish. In my current job, I was hired to do bilingual work, but I have had very little opportunity to speak Spanish for about six months. I'm worried I may be forgetting Spanish, which is really very bad for me on many levels. Please help me find a few ways to keep in touch with the language. [more inside]
What do you think of the name "Rub" for a health spa? Is it cute or dirty and why?
I'm looking for examples of sentences/phrases that have a completely different meaning at the beginning of the sentence than they do by the end. The best example I can find is this example of Happy Ending's that sounds completely inappropriate until he finishes the verse. Is there a name for this? Is this a literary device? (I thought it might have been a type of irony at first, but I'm not certain.)
Can the hive mind take a look at the picture of this necklace and see if the back of it is calligraphy of some sort? It looks like Arabic or Persian. If so, does anyone know what it says? Here's the picture.
Is it acceptable, in the name of practicality, to ignore gender while speaking German? [more inside]
I’ve noticed that I’m increasingly reading “I’ve not” in place of “I haven’t” and “I’ll not” in place of “I won’t.” When I was growing up (the 70s), these expressions were exceedingly rare. I knew they existed, of course, but to me they seemed redolent of century-old books: “I’ll not brook such behavior in my classroom, Tom Sawyer!” “Fezziwig! I’ve not heard his voice since my youth.” But in the last 15 years or so, I've been seeing these phrasings more and more often in colloquial writing — other blogs, Amazon reviews, internet discussions, MeFi etc. I don’t seem to hear these forms spoken, which adds to their air of formality. [more inside]
When did enslaved Africans in the US stop speaking African languages? [more inside]
I'm fascinated by writing systems. I've seen this wiki page about different types of systems in real and fictional languages. As I understand it, there are generally three kinds of systems: logographic, where symbols represent entire concepts or words; syllabaries, where symbols represent syllabic sounds; and segmental, where symbols represent phonemes or small units of sound. Is there any other way to write? I'm having a hard time coming up with how it would even work, but I'm sure some clever author somewhere has tried. Is there another way to write a language other than the above?
I'm looking for scientific or mathematical examples, ideas, which could rightly refer to the imagined class of dynamic systems I'm trying to describe. [more inside]
Is there any explanation for how the phrase "young lady," used in addressing an obviously older woman, became popular? I never hear it used in addressing girls anymore, but only as a lame attempt to be friendly to an older woman. It's as if the speaker is trying to make you feel better about the fact that you are not a young lady; it is so much nicer to hear the respectful yet affectionate Southern colloquialism "miss lady." Ditto for the phrase "graduate college': when and why did even respected news sources drop the "from" ("graduate from college")? Thanks for listening.
“Cash is an option too! Don’t forget that!”. Help us come up with proper cash gift language to put on our wedding registry website. [more inside]
I'm currently studying Chinese in Beijing and I'm looking for podcasts or audio recordings to help me learn more. Do you know of any good Chinese language podcasts that can help me study? [more inside]