Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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April 22

From the beginning

I really enjoy Ada Palmer's blog Ex Urbe. Previously. what else in the same vein can you recommend? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:26 PM - 1 answers

Erotic Books Available Through Amazon

My prison penpal has sheepishly requested some books with sex scenes, and while I've never been in prison I was a bookish teenager before internet porn existed and I get it. Help me find kinky novels or short story collections that are 1) available in paperback through Amazon and 2) don't scream THIS IS GAY PORN on the cover (though homosexual or bisexual content is a plus!!!) [more inside]
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:17 AM - 16 answers

April 20

What is this (Scandinavian?) language?

Can you identify the language in this cycling commentary? I think it's Scandinavian, maybe Norwegian?
posted by EtTuHealy at 3:02 PM - 4 answers

How do you pronounce "Lost City of Z"?

Percy Fawcett was British, so did he say "Lost City of Zed" or, as the new movie trailers have it, "Lost City of Zee"? [more inside]
posted by CCBC at 3:05 AM - 7 answers

April 19

Etymological missing link

I learned today that at some point before their extinction, Great Auks were commonly known as penguins. Europeans traveling near the edges of the Southern hemisphere saw birds that reminded them of auks, so they called them penguins. Then Great Auks became extinct, and the only penguins left were the birds that had been given that name based on a misunderstanding. Is there a term for this linguistic phenomenon, where a link in an etymological chain has ceased to exist? Are there other common examples?
posted by layceepee at 12:52 PM - 5 answers

Dear Susan - Under Neat That - We will Miss you

I just got bought a book based on the "cake-wrecks" blog - it has brought me so much joy. If I like smbc/xkcd/cakewrecks - what other books would fulfill that niche (that I can just pop them open and laugh) - and that are possibly also based on an internet-project with some backstory (but that's not a necessary boundary condition).
posted by mathiu at 8:17 AM - 29 answers

Can you translate the Chinese text on this poster to English?

Online auto translators are failing to translate what I believe is Chinese text from this poster. Anyone want to give it a shot?
posted by gwint at 7:37 AM - 1 answers

Half-remembered anecdote about young vs old workers

Many years ago, I read an essay or memoir that included this anecdote: the author, a writer, had gotten a job at a local quarry (I think in England), and described two groups of workers, young versus old. [more inside]
posted by Mogur at 2:28 AM - 5 answers

April 18

Learning a language through music, film and TV

I'm curious on how doable it is to learn a language (to basic listening/reading/speaking ability) primarily through music, and other media like film and TV. [more inside]
posted by naju at 2:13 PM - 19 answers

April 14

Examples of verb tenses

I am familiar with the present, past, and future tenses, and various perfect versions of the same. What are some obscure, unusual, situational and possibly fictional verb tenses? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:40 PM - 18 answers

April 13

Do I end a quote like this with a period or an ellipsis?

Say, for instance, this was the original sentence in whatever source: John Doe went to the bookstore and bought some books. If the sentence I want to write is That’s when, as Blah Blah author wrote, “John Doe went to the bookstore”, would I finish my sentence with bookstore.” or bookstore…”, since in the original sentence the word “bookstore” isn’t followed by a period?
posted by 8LeggedFriend at 8:29 AM - 11 answers

April 12

What are some other poems I would like?

I'm looking for short-ish poems related to change, growth, rebirth, beginning again, new years, birthdays, the inevitable (but often delightful or joyful) passage of time, and/or the idea that we're all going to die, but also we're all in it together and sometimes it ends up working out. [more inside]
posted by vakker at 12:08 PM - 13 answers

How to wish Finns a happy centenary?

What's Finnish for 'Happy 100th Birthday Finland!', and is it appropriate? [more inside]
posted by pipeski at 10:48 AM - 4 answers

April 9

What's a good word to use when you need to co-adjust two components?

For example: the business processes need to change to so that you can take advantage of new technologies, but the technologies need to be tweaked to support the business process. Thus one might offer "a service that specializes in *co-adapting* the business process and the new technologies." What's a better word than "co-adapting" or a better way to phrase this without lengthening the sentence?
posted by blue_wardrobe at 8:12 PM - 11 answers

April 5

Norse language and writing: Elder Futhark runes vs. Old Norse language

I'd like to better understand the difference in language between runic alphabets (specifically Elder Futhark) and more "written" languages like Old Norse, which is what I believe old manuscripts like the Prose Edda were written in. [more inside]
posted by wubbie at 11:47 AM - 7 answers

April 4

what would be a good wordpress theme for serious writers?

Can you recommend a good wordpress theme (or other tool) to build a personal blog that contains really long form writing: book chapters, or long academic articles? I like Medium's style but it is not all about the look. Table of content is a must. [more inside]
posted by dliang at 5:31 PM - 2 answers

I need Ambiguous Names (and more!)

I am looking for names that are ambiguous or even misleading in some way. I am primarily interested in ethnically ambiguous names. [more inside]
posted by Michele in California at 5:04 PM - 91 answers

April 2

Generational space travel SF story/novel ID

Children aboard a generational spaceship find out the hard truth: their predecessors screwed up, they're trapped in the vicinity of a star, and they must try to make the best possible future out of it. Can you help me ID this story? [more inside]
posted by runcifex at 4:13 AM - 5 answers

March 29

The Blind and the Seers?

Looking for a character from myth, legend, fiction, or history who famously couldn't see. Whatcha got? [more inside]
posted by Mystical Listicle at 2:39 PM - 46 answers

I need someone else's beautiful words

My younger sister is dying from cancer. I’m told she doesn’t have much time left. We’ve said our good-byes, but I can still visit her every few days for now. When I went to see her last night at the hospital, she was sedated and drifting in and out of consciousness. I’m not a chatty sort of person, so I took a couple of books of Dennis Lee poems I used to read to her when we were kids. Reading those aloud was good for a two-hour visit where she was aware I was there, but she wasn’t able to talk. I got some smiles from her, though. Taking the same books again seems low effort, but regular books have a narrative that I don’t think she’ll be able to follow. I think nice words without much of a storyline would work best, but I don’t know much poetry. I was wondering if folks had some suggestions as to what might be appropriate? She is religious (Salvation Army), I am not. She's read a lot of fantasy and romance.
posted by TORunner at 11:56 AM - 31 answers

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