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]
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]
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?
I am looking for an open-source / commons repository of any spoken language. Preferably free, otherwise just well-formatted. [more inside]
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]
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]
I'd like more and better (preferably Internet-based) resources for learning Russian. Cyrillic alphabet instruction not needed. Details inside. [more inside]
What phrases are reflexively on the tip of your tongue? [more inside]
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]
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?
Give me your opinion about my stupid smart business name idea. [more inside]
How do you go about consciously aping the voice/tone/style of a particular genre of fiction or writer? [more inside]
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]
A family heirloom has a mysterious inscription in what I assume is a Scandinavian language. But what is it? [more inside]
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]
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]
I'm (re-)learning Spanish and am finding the stories in my "First Spanish Reader" to be somewhat lacking in interest. Since I enjoy thumbing through architectural/interior design magazines, I thought a print subscription to one in Spanish would be a fun way to learn. I've encountered the Spanish version of Architectural Living ("Arquitectura Viva"), which seems alright. I'd like to know if there are other options. For reference, my preferred aesthetic is stark modern with aged materials (examples: wabi sabi, Scandinavian and excessive concrete). Muchas gracias!
Kind of curious about this. I know Shadowrun does/did well in Germany, and has/had at least a nominal presence in Japan. One of the (for good or ill) characteristics of the setting is the jargon and street slang. How are these translated into other languages? What are some examples?
Does anyone know the Latin (?) phrase for when a judge authors both an opinion AND a special companion opinion (concurrence or dissent)?
what are the things called when you make sounds that are not words, but convey some emotion? i remember reading an exercise, about the length of a paragraph, demonstrating the different noises people make. [more inside]
Native or longtime speakers of French, as it is spoken in France: How does my spoken noob French come across? Link to embarrassing sound file inside. [more inside]
Is there a term for a seer/diviner/oracle that is only able to see into the past? I'm willing to grab one from a non-English language if there is a word that means specifically "a seer who can only see the past", but English is prefered. Antiquated terms are OK. Bonus points for interesting etymological details (or links to interesting etymological details). [more inside]
I'm fascinated by the efforts of Deutsche Bahn to get rid of the "Bahnglisch" that litters the service with expressions that look English but aren't the sort of expressions that any native speaker of English would actually use, and it occurred to me that this sort of thing is common in German outside of DB, and probably all over the world. [more inside]
I'm looking for lines of dialogue from movies, novels, or elsewhere, in which someone says that something is not an X, even though it is an X, just not a mere X or typical X. An example of the type of exchange I'm looking for: "Wow, you spent a year's salary on a car?" "A car? This is isn't a car. It's a Lamborghini!" The second person knows that their Lamborghini is a car, but means to express that it isn't just a car. (It's important for my purposes that the person doesn't say 'just'.) There must be some recognizable instances of this type of speech, but I'm drawing a blank. Any ideas?
I have a list of 625 English words, translations in a bunch of languages, and what-not in a giant excel file. We'll call that excel file "the Data." The Data is in alphabetical order. I also have a separate list of those same English words in a different order. Is there a way to sort the Data so that it's in the same order as my new, non-alphabetical list? [more inside]
Hi. I'm a Portuguese student and I'm going to spend two weeks of my summer vacations on Leeds, England since I have an aunt there that invited me. I would like to spend my time practicing my English but I don't know what to do or where to go. Where can I meet new people (of my age range preferably: 20's), have a good conversation, listen to other people talk, ...? Your help will be much appreciated!
I am looking for a good replacement for a dearly-departed Spanish language news podcast, BBC Mundo Radio. [more inside]
I've Googled and Googled and can't find it nor any reference to it. Several years back, I read this illustrated story/webcomic (I FEEL like I found it via Metafilter but that might be wrong). I think it was about the origins of spoken language? It featured a group of cave-dwelling protohumans, scenes of sex and female copulatory vocalizations, and possibly psilocybin mushrooms. Did I dream this? If not, what is it and where can I find it again?
Is there a Swedish speaker in the house? In the Swedish film Call Girl, one of the characters utters a phrase that is translated in the subtitles as: "What you look for in a bag was once found in a sack." To me it's a total non-sequitur... Any idea what it means? Here's the clip on YouTube. Thanks!
I'm compiling a list of simple, abstract rules that three-year olds are likely to know, along the lines of "green means go" or "a smile means they're happy". I need some more rules/patterns/abstract properties that kids this age in the US usually know about. [more inside]
I just got a new job where I will have access to Rosetta Stone for a single language. I don't need to learn any languages for work so please help me decide how I'd like to use it. [more inside]
I really like metaphors and I really like song lyrics. Every once in a while I run across a particular type of cleverly extended metaphor in a song lyric. I'm trying to develop this idea a bit and looking for more examples of this particular thing. I've included some explanatory examples I've found. [more inside]
When someone says head or latrine for bathroom its likely that they were in the military or around the military. A less common example,when someone says "avoid the near occasion" about something its likely that they are from a Roman Catholic background, I'd even say its use indicates a likelihood that they are or were a priest, seminarian, religious, in a kind of serious catholic family or school etc. Reckon is a common word and its being used once doesn't mean anything but when its use is pretty frequent it might be indicative of someone's having lived in the south east United States. When people say pop instead of soda or coke they likely are from somewhere roughly between Chicago and Denver, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Things like this interest me and I'm sure I know only a infinitesimal fraction of a percent of them. Do you have any like observations to share? [more inside]
Is it rude to refer to someone in the third person (he/she) while they are present? [more inside]
I'm trying to source this haunting voice. Is this arabic? A sung prayer? Stumbled on this by accident, no idea what it is. Thanks for any tips...
What are some practical, small (meaning not necessarily enterprise scale) uses for Erlang? [more inside]
The 1983 Billy Joel song "Uptown Girl" has the line "But maybe someday when my ship comes in / she'll understand what kind of guy I am / and then I'll win." It just occurred to me that, though I'm in my thirties, I don't think I've ever heard the expression "when my ship comes in" used by anyone but Billy Joel. Has this ever been a commonly-used expression? If so, does anyone still use it? And what the heck does it even mean? I mean, I can tell what it figuratively means, from the context. But what is the connection between a ship arriving and someone becoming successful?
I'm looking for a word or phrase to sum up the following sentiment: [more inside]
I was at lunch today and asked my friends "Why don't American's have British accents in their speach?" They were dumbfounded and began to wonder themselves so I turn to Ask MetaFilter to find the answer.
Asking for a non MeFi friend. His daughter is a single parent to a 3 year old girl, his only grandchild. There is no contact with the father for Reasons. Friend is separated himself. His granddaughter adores him and he loves to babysit her when he can (they live in another city about an hour away), about once a week for a day. He also Skypes her during the week. For the last while she has been referring to him as “Daddy”. Apparently she was being teased at nursery for not having a Dad (at 3!) and she told them that she did have a Daddy, and he was called Granddad. Her Mum thought this was hilarious. Today I was visiting with both of them and she wrote his name (just scribbles) and said “That’s your name.” He said “Granddad?” and she said, “No. Daddy”. Does this matter in any way? [more inside]
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.
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?
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]
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]
International MeFites can you recommend great hip-hop either entirely in non-English language, or featuring mainly non-US English dialects? previously
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!
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?
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?
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!