1923 posts tagged with language.
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Prep for Jure Sanguinis -> Help me find a great Italian textbook

Preparing for Jure Sanguinis and trying to brush up on my non-existent Italian. I haven't had much luck with various websites and apps (FSI is an exception), can't afford Rosetta Stone, and can't leave work long enough for an immersion course. I've found that I do well with language textbooks in that I get a better sense of the grammar and they allow for rote memorization of words and phrases. With that in mind, can anyone recommend a good textbook (or system, or correspondence course) for learning Italian at home? Thank you.
posted by NYC-BB on May 27, 2013 - 3 answers

What is this weak form of pun called?

You know the kind: "DemoCRAPS" and "RepubliCONS" I find these constructions incredibly tiresome and would like to address them with a technical term. What are these forms of speech called?
posted by salishsea on May 27, 2013 - 19 answers

How can I talk with my friend about his dating life given our history?

I have a very good friend who I spend time with on a regular basis. In recent history (and maybe probably for the foreseeable future) he has been depressed about his dating life, so naturally, it is a subject that comes up and I discuss it with him. However, given our past history together, it's been a really hard subject for me to discuss with him and I would like some help navigating this from the hivemind. [more inside]
posted by anonymous on May 26, 2013 - 11 answers

Is my writing style overly complicated?

I learned English as a second language (native is Finnish). The emphasis in school was on vocabulary and very basic grammar; we did not to my recollection deal with stuff like passive voice etc. So in terms of writing in English, much of my "voice" has developed simply from what sounds right inside my head. However, I've been told that the way I write is overly complicated. Is this so? [more inside]
posted by Unhyper on May 22, 2013 - 48 answers

Recommendations for non-English language hip-hop

International MeFites can you recommend great hip-hop either entirely in non-English language, or featuring mainly non-US English dialects? previously
posted by roofus on May 22, 2013 - 40 answers

What single word describes these things that my employer sells?

I need one word, in singular form, that is synonymous with product, service, and experience (experience as in, taking a tour, sitting for a lecture, watching a live band..) The company I am working for provides many products, services and experiences for their customers, and I need a single, general noun that describes all of these. Help!
posted by Glendale on May 21, 2013 - 21 answers

What would you really like to know about language and language learning?

I run a blog about language learning and have ~9 months until a book of mine gets published. During that time, I'd like to grow my audience as much as possible, which basically means writing as many interesting articles as possible. While I have a list of blog-post ideas, I'm currently living in book-related tunnel vision, and could use some outside input. If you knew someone who knew a lot about foreign languages and language learning, and was willing to do some research and write an article about anything you wanted, what would you want him/her to write about? What burning, unanswered questions do you have about languages, language learning, memory or any other related topics?
posted by sdis on May 19, 2013 - 37 answers

"Hosed" etymology - When did this phrase come into use?

At what point did the phrase "I'm/you're/we're hosed" come into play in the US vernacular? Earliest record? From pop culture somewhere? Are there regions of the US that did not ever use this turn of phrase?
posted by juniperesque on May 17, 2013 - 17 answers

List of simple word roots

I am looking for a text file of a list of words (roughly the 5000-10000 most common English words) and their root word and root word language. My Google Fu only turns up single words or pages that I can type in a word to get to another page to get the etymology. Wikipedia has some stuff, but it is sorted by language root, which is not what I am looking for. I would like to have a long list of words in a text file so that I can manipulate it programatically. Comma separated or whatever, any format would be great. Here is one use case: Yoke - [list of words that have yoke in the etymological history] (Many, many many English words come from the root work for Yoke.) All answers appreciated!
posted by Monkey0nCrack on May 16, 2013 - 6 answers

How can I relearn Spanish?

I studied Spanish in high school and college, and I even spent a semester abroad in Spain. At that point, I was very proficient at reading, writing, and speaking it. Sadly, in the 8 years since graduation, I feel as though I have forgotten everything. I am looking to get into a field where knowing Spanish would be very helpful, and I am trying to figure out the best way to both relearn what I knew (and possible go beyond that). Obviously for speaking, I will need to get out there and practice, but before that, should I just pick up my old textbooks and get going? Or, is there a better way?
posted by aka_anon on May 15, 2013 - 14 answers

Who should I send early copies of my book to?

I'm writing a book about language learning and the science of memory for a major publisher. We're a couple months away from sending galley copies around to various people for blurbs and reviews, and they've asked me for input as to who might be interested. So! Who should read this thing? Name some people who, if you saw their name on the back of a science-y book on language learning and memory, you'd buy it.
posted by sdis on May 4, 2013 - 20 answers

Is Australia just the West Island?

Quick question for folks who've lived in both Australia and NZ: what cultural and language differences did you notice?
posted by superfish on May 3, 2013 - 12 answers

How to pronounce an equation in English.

Please help me pronounce this formula related to projectile motion as it would be spoken out loud: L = v0^2 sin2θ / g [more inside]
posted by misozaki on Apr 30, 2013 - 15 answers

Examples of beautiful writing

I aspire to write beautifully -- what is some great writing that uses colorful, creative language and style? [more inside]
posted by switcheroo on Apr 29, 2013 - 53 answers

How to find a job using Chinese language skills?

Hey Mefis! I am asking this question on behalf of my brother-in-law who recently got laid off. Does anyone here have advice to give to a guy with a degree in Chinese and minor in business who would like to work in manufacturing/ sourcing for a US company either in the US or China? [more inside]
posted by catrae on Apr 25, 2013 - 6 answers

How do you say "statistically significant" in your native language?

In English, scientists customarily use the word "significant" or "statistically significant" to refer to an effect that is distinguished from zero at a p < .05 confidence level. On the other hand, the word "significant" in non-technical English carries a connotation of being meaningful, important, or substantial; this creates confusion when researchers write about "a significant effect," since the effect might be significant in the statistical sense while being so small as to be insignificant in the common-English sense. In your native language, what word is used for "signficance" in the statistical context? Is the same word used outside the technical context, and if so, is it a word whose common meaning is something more like "detectable," more like "important," or something else entirely? In particular, does the confusion that arises in English also take place in your language?
posted by escabeche on Apr 24, 2013 - 5 answers

한글 filter - help me stress "NO MEAT" in Korean.

I speak a very small level of Korean - enough to engage in commercial transactions (especially in restaurants) but not political theorizing. When we go to Korean restaurants, I try to use my 한글 so that I'm as clear as possible. My husband and I don't eat meat. We do eat fish, but not shellfish - but no chicken, pork, beef or otherwise. (Insert quote from My Big Fat Greek Wedding here.) Husband likes to order 돌솥 비빔밥 in Korean restaurants (as do I!) but the past few times we've done so, we end up with a dish containing ground beef, despite my protestations. Here is what I say: 그는 고기를 먹지 않는다. I thought that would do it - AFAIK, it means, "he don't eat no meat." Tell me what I'm saying wrong and what I should say to avoid this issue!
posted by mccn on Apr 23, 2013 - 5 answers

Etymology of "I know, right?"

I have a theory about the origin of the expression “I know, right?” that’s been fairly popular among young and youngish Americans (and others, for all I know) for the past several years. I’m testing that theory with this question. I understand that Mexicans (and maybe other Latin Americans) have an equivalent expression, “Sí, ¿verdad?” - even with the same intonation as “I know, right?”. Well, one source has told me this, anyway. Can other people verify this? And if so, how common is/was the Spanish version of the expression, and roughly when (and where) did people start saying it?
posted by Mechitar on Apr 18, 2013 - 9 answers

Help me name my book!

I'm writing a book for a major publisher on language learning, and we're currently in the process of figuring out/fighting over a title+subtitle(+sub-subtitle) combo. Here's the issue: the book crosses two genres. Originally, it was simply a how-to book, with a step-by-step method for learning any language quickly. But over the course of writing and researching it, it's turned into a discussion about the science of memory and learning, how we learn languages, why we generally don't succeed at learning them in school, and what to do differently. It's become interesting, not just on a how-to level, but on an intellectual how-do-our-brains-work sort of level. This is great news from an audience standpoint – we've added a whole new potential audience (people who aren't looking for a how-to-learn-a-language book, but *are* interested in how their brains work) – but it's very tricky from a title standpoint. How do you choose a title that conveys the How-to nature of the book and the How-your-brain-works part at the same time? [more inside]
posted by sdis on Apr 17, 2013 - 14 answers

The Good Book as good read

I am looking for recommendations for bibles in languages other than English, specifically for their literary qualities. [more inside]
posted by ricochet biscuit on Apr 16, 2013 - 8 answers

Why do letters have letter names? (B = "bee", H = "aitch"...)

I first came across this about 20 years ago in a Calvin & Hobbes strip where Hobbes taunts his friend: "Calvin and Susie, sitting in a tree. Kay-Eye-Ess-Ess-Eye-En-Gee!" I never understood why Hobbes was making "words" out of letters; I assumed it was something unique to comics (or tigers). Then today, a poem linked to in this FPP reminded me of that old comic strip and got me thinking: Why is there an entire parallel alphabet to spell out the letters of the alphabet? [more inside]
posted by andromache on Apr 14, 2013 - 29 answers

SimCity 4 Mac language change?

So I have a copy of Simcity 4 for Mac OS, and the patch to run it on Intel. I'm looking to switch the language from US to UK English (I want left-side traffic) but all of the instructions I've found online to do such a thing are for the Windows version, and involve modifying the Registry, which by definition ain't gonna happen for the Mac OS version. What can I do? How do I change the game's language settings on Mac OS?
posted by DoctorFedora on Apr 12, 2013 - 7 answers

Looking for two letter slang/colloquialisms

"Ne" in Japanese can mean many things, same with "eh" in Canada. "Ya" and "Da" appear many places. "OK" is a favorite around the world. "OI" for Punks and for "Oy" for Jews. Can you think of any others?
posted by parallax7d on Apr 12, 2013 - 40 answers

Novels about language?

I'm looking for some recommendations of novels that are in some way about language. [more inside]
posted by Joseph Gurl on Apr 7, 2013 - 48 answers

So?

Where is this mystical land where it is acceptable to answer statements with: "So?" [more inside]
posted by 256 on Apr 5, 2013 - 40 answers

How many words do we really use?

What is the average working vocabulary (and outliers) of various languages? Is the working vocabulary of English English different from American English or Australian English? and how does this compare with other languages?
posted by adamvasco on Apr 4, 2013 - 11 answers

What does this note say? Possibly arabic?

A friend of a friend posted a picture of a note to facebook. Can any of you identify the language and offer a translation of what it says? [more inside]
posted by knapah on Apr 3, 2013 - 8 answers

Cocktail party linguistics

How come that various forms of the verb "to be" have different degrees of similarity across German/English/Romance languages? The third person singular ist/is/est seems to have an obvious common root, whereas I don't see it jump out on me for bin/am/suis at all, and in other forms it seems like German and French are close with English the odd one out (sind/sommes/are), which I found puzzling given that I usually think of English as the bastard child of these two.
posted by themel on Mar 31, 2013 - 6 answers

The visual equivalent of 'Prisencolinensinainciusol'

There are Latin fonts designed to mimic Cyrillic, Asian characters, and many other scripts. What are some examples of foreign-script fonts which mimic Latin characters?
posted by Gordafarin on Mar 30, 2013 - 4 answers

US politicians' multilingual chops

Can you give me specific instances of US political candidates or elected officials publically speaking in a language other than English? [more inside]
posted by threeants on Mar 27, 2013 - 31 answers

Standard American pronunciation training

Hello, I'm a French student preparing for English interviews and in my last mock session my interviewer talked about my accent that could put me at a disadvantage. I can't afford and don't have the time to see a speech therapist so I'm looking for books with audio tracks that are aimed at mastering the standard American accent. Do you know or know somebody that had had great results with a particular book? Thank you!
posted by lite on Mar 27, 2013 - 19 answers

What I meant to say was "safe travels and have a nice evening." Really.

Does the term "homegoing" have a wide use across Christian denominations? [more inside]
posted by psoas on Mar 20, 2013 - 36 answers

The English Police Is Coming!! I Mean, Are Coming! Oh, Crap...

I've been living abroad for several years, and my proficiency in my native language seems to have taken a hit. Is this normal, and what should I do? [more inside]
posted by anonymous on Mar 19, 2013 - 14 answers

Karaoke-like software to speak Norwegian like a native

Is there any software out there which can give me feedback on rhythm, timing and flow for language learning? Karaoke for Norwegian speech patterns? [more inside]
posted by Eltulipan on Mar 18, 2013 - 3 answers

Think Thank Thought Leader

'Think tank' and 'thought leader' not 'thought tank' and 'think leader'. Can you help me construct a good argument for why we have settled on the first two and not the second? [more inside]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken on Mar 17, 2013 - 7 answers

Touché

I think I don't understand the meaning, in English, of "touché." [more inside]
posted by Snarl Furillo on Mar 17, 2013 - 32 answers

Give me some examples of rephrasing a question into a statement

I've heard that men don't like questions. I'm a woman and would like to have better relationships with the men in my life. Give me some examples of ways to rephrase questions into statements, directives or imperatives. [more inside]
posted by geekgirl397 on Mar 15, 2013 - 40 answers

Recommend Italian podcasts for a learner.

I need to improve my comprehension of spoken Italian, and I'm looking for free podcasts in Italian (as opposed to recorded language lessons) which can help me do this. [more inside]
posted by pont on Mar 15, 2013 - 2 answers

What ancient Anatolian alphabet is this?

I found some stone tablets written in a strange alphabet amongst a bunch of graves from different eras at the city museum of Tire, Turkey. The guy working the desk at the museum didn't know what they were. Pictures in extended. [more inside]
posted by Theiform on Mar 15, 2013 - 12 answers

Easy French or French-English Podcast recommendations?

I'm learning French, and am looking to increase my exposure to spoken French. Among other things, I've been listening to the Coffee Break French series of podcasts, which has been very helpful, but I'd like to add in some podcasts that aren't specifically about learning French -- podcasts that are by native French speakers and made for a French-speaking audience, but which ideally are fairly accessible or at least roughly comprehensible with some effort to someone who has only a patchy knowledge of the language. French news podcasts might be valuable to me, for instance. Bonus features: podcasts that are also broadcast in English, podcasts that are about scientific topics, and podcasts that are about or are produced in francophone Africa. Recommendations?
posted by Scientist on Mar 14, 2013 - 17 answers

Decode This German Shorthand Mystery Letter From 1939!

This envelope with a letter inside was found inside a large decaying bound edition of Shakespeare auf Deutsch in a junk shop in Bushwick that was only apparently open for a few months before disappearing. The letter, postmarked 15 March, 1939 - was sent to Paris by a Mr. Henri Wolf. The contents of the letter appear to be German shorthand. Included was small piece of what looks like code, there's nothing else on the back.The letter, envelope, postcard, etc in question are at this imgur album. Hivemind: What the hell is this?
posted by The Whelk on Mar 14, 2013 - 28 answers

A race by any other slur

How do other languages (non-English) express the scientific term 'race?' vs the colloquial? In taxonomic terms, the word "race" is 90% used as a misnomer in US discourse. This is rooted in "Social Darwinism," or contemporary racist applications of seminal evolution concepts. This colors verbiage across the sciences, especially the social sciences. To wit, the term 'racism' is in fact based on a dehumanizing paradigm. So, um, how does this shake out elsewhere? [more inside]
posted by es_de_bah on Mar 11, 2013 - 9 answers

Finding summer accommodation in Paris

I'm going to Paris in July and August this summer to take a language course at the Sorbonne. Yay! However, my original plan to stay at a friend's flat has fallen through, and I'm going to have to search for my own accommodation. I don't know where to start... and my French isn't great. Help! [more inside]
posted by pikeandshield on Mar 11, 2013 - 10 answers

Keep it secret, keep it safe.

Eastern-language experts: what does this ring say? I don't know the language or even if I've got it right-side-up. I photographed the characters in order, picking one at random to start with. If it's written in Fake Words For Honkies and doesn't actually mean anything, that's fine; if it will summon a Nazgul, that's even better!
posted by cmyk on Mar 6, 2013 - 5 answers

Korean or jibberish?

My 3yo son memorized a song from a cartoon on Youtube. He walks around the house singing it all day. We think the song might be Korean, but we're not sure. Is he using actual words or just making sounds? (apologies if this is wildly offensive, my wife and I are just curious).
posted by ColdChef on Mar 1, 2013 - 11 answers

A better word for 'most valuable customer'?

I'm looking for a better word or term of art for the most important customer of a company, in particular one that provides the most revenue. [more inside]
posted by heliostatic on Feb 28, 2013 - 22 answers

ESL language resources for a 7-year-old?

My Bulgarian nephew speaks no English and just enrolled in the first grade of a public school in the United States. He will be staying here until June. So far, he is handling it well and is proactive about learning English. Everyone at home has become a makeshift, round-the-clock ESL tutor and he is constantly provided with opportunities to pick up grammar and vocabulary, but his teachers don't really know what to do with him before he can communicate. What additional resources can we provide for him to help him pick up the language faster? He already has a bunch of library books, so we're looking for apps for iPad, Android, Chrome, Nintendo 3DS and other things a computer-savvy 7-year-old might enjoy. Thanks!
posted by halogen on Feb 27, 2013 - 12 answers

Tips for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language?

What are your tips and techniques for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language? [more inside]
posted by kristi on Feb 26, 2013 - 15 answers

How best to improve my written and spoken Spanish skills in 6 months?

Ayudeme a decir a la gente que tienen alta presion arterial. [more inside]
posted by queens86 on Feb 6, 2013 - 21 answers

Google Japanese Input

I have just started using Google Japanese Input on Windows 7. It works fine, but I would like to be able to switch input modes (i.e. between direct input, hiragana, katakana etc) using a shortcut key. Currently I have to click on the language bar to switch, which is a pain. I looked in the properties and can't see an option for shortcuts. I tried googling but can't seem to find an answer either. [more inside]
posted by theyexpectresults on Feb 5, 2013 - 4 answers

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