Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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June 22

From a writer: time to get a new agent? How do I do it?

TLDR version: I'm a published author with a well-respected agent who has seriously let me down. But he's the only agent I've had, so maybe I'm being unrealistic and should just be patient. My contract doesn't say I *can't* look for new agents while he represents me, but I can't find a clear answer as to whether or not this is generally frowned-upon. Any other writers have thoughts on this? [more inside]
posted by Mismatched Socks at 4:08 PM - 16 answers

June 21

Books with daemons or other magical creature companions

My almost-twelve-year-old is looking for books with daemons or similar companions. She loved Pullman's Materials books and is looking for something similar. She also complains that what she's generally being offered is too simplistic. She wants something a little more challenging. What are your recommendations?
posted by Stanczyk at 5:49 PM - 34 answers

Is there a name for this script-imitation font phenomenon?

A once-common practice at ethnicity-specific restaurants (in America) seems to be the use of a font that evokes some aspect of the native script of that ethnicity. Three questions about this: (1) Is there a name for this phenomenon? (2) Is it generally regarded as appropriation? (3) Does it occur in scripts other than Roman (or near-Roman scripts like Greek and Cyrillic) as well? Like, are there Japanese Indian restaurants with names written in Devanagari-imitating katakana, or British pubs in Israel which have especially "Roman" Hebrew letterforms, or somesuch? [more inside]
posted by jackbishop at 7:57 AM - 13 answers

June 20

either / or

I've seen an increasing amount of people using a space either side of a forward slash over the last couple of years, which I basically never saw (unless it was an individual with an especially idiosyncratic writing/punctuation style) ten or so years ago. Is this accepted convention now, and are there any strong reasons (beyond personal preference) to favour it over the same thing but with no spaces? [more inside]
posted by terretu at 4:09 AM - 18 answers

June 19

Where does the name Yarisca come from?

I recently met someone named Yari, short for Yarisca. I am curious about the origin of this first name and wondering where it comes from and what it means. Any help? [more inside]
posted by bq at 6:15 PM - 4 answers

June 18

Know of a mandarin-speaking phonetics expert? (ling grad student, etc)

This is a longshot, but I'm trying to find novel ways to improve my mandarin pronunciation. I'm trying to find people that have a trained ear who can help me improve...you'd think teachers would be good at this, but for various reasons, past a certain point they tend not to be. There are dialect coaches that work in hollywood, but not many and they're quite expensive. The "ideal" would be maybe a linguistics grad student in something related to phonetics (or perhaps someone studying to be a speech pathologist or whatnot) who is a native speaker or at least a trained ear... then they could listen to me work through charts like this or this and help diagnose and fix issues with pronunciation. I'd of course pay for this, which is why grad students might help -- I know grad students in linguistics aren't exactly rolling in money!
posted by wooh at 3:45 PM - 4 answers

Seeking translation from archaic Japanese & Chinese (re LGBTQ news)

Please help me translate these two snippets related to same-sex marriage in Taiwan: one in archaic Japanese and one in Chinese! [more inside]
posted by divabat at 12:57 AM - 5 answers

June 17

Best books about American Expats?

Looking for book suggestions about the American expat experience. [more inside]
posted by princeoftheair at 6:37 AM - 10 answers

June 15

Novels with routines involving prayer, learning or ... cleaning

I realized I really like chapters in novels where a character is engaged in some routine, meditative, or prayerful exercise and am looking for some suggestions. [more inside]
posted by charlielxxv at 10:18 PM - 27 answers

I'm looking for a title of a book on manners.

I can't recall the name of the book or too many details. It is written by a man. He writes about his travels to Japan and the manners there. He lives in New York and I think was a guide there. He talks about the manners there too. It reads like a combo travelogue and manners book.
posted by Tziv at 5:17 AM - 1 answers

June 13

Misplaced stanza, poem, or quote about old age

Please help me find a short stanza or poem I once read discussing the passage of time--and the preciousness of time--in old age. [more inside]
posted by hhgoodwin at 6:41 PM - 1 answers

Redman wept.

What are some songs whose lyrics mention "being high" as a positive feeling outside of the context of using drugs. For instance, Eddie Rabbit's I Love A Rainy Night: "I love a rainy night, You can see it in my eyes, I love a rainy night, It makes me high", or John Denver's Sunshine On My Shoulders: "Sunshine on the water looks so lovely, Sunshine almost always makes me high". The more familiar the better, but anything you might think of is great. Thanks.
posted by themanwho at 12:37 PM - 31 answers

Can anyone give details on what these symbols are?

I found these appearing occasionally on a documentary. The production company is fringe, bordering conspiracy. Flickr link
posted by Alt255 at 7:50 AM - 4 answers

June 12

Fiction for the Elderly?

My dad is 97 and likes to read. I want to send him a small package of books and am looking for appropriate recommendations. [more inside]
posted by Short Attention Sp at 4:41 PM - 41 answers

June 11

What suspense/scary book authors are there for a thirteen year old?

My daughter LOVED Coraline, so I know Neil Gaiman is pretty good; and my husband loves Stephen King. But most of his books are so graphic and scary that my husband said they would put images in her mind that were so disturbing she would not be able to get out....at least for her age right now. So do you have a suspenseful, scary book idea for a girl that "wants" a scary book but does not go too far in the "disturbing" factor? Thanks!
posted by lynnie-the-pooh at 12:02 PM - 34 answers

"a little" means...?

From "The Fallen Idol" by Green. On the nursery table he found his supper laid out:a glass of milk and a piece of bread and butter, a sweet biscuit, and a little cold Queen's pudding without the meringue. My question is what "a little " means here. 1) a little pudding 2) "a little cold"pudding 3) both 1) and 2) Well, I hear that "pudding" is countable in British English whereas uncountable in American English. Is it true? Anyway could you give me a tip? Thank you.
posted by mizukko at 8:21 AM - 11 answers

What is this book involving a dance about a basilisk?

In the early 90s, I read a book -- today I would class it as YA -- about a girl (I think she was fat; I don't remember her name) and her best friend (frenemy?) named Til. Til had a difficult family life, and spent a lot of time or possibly lived with the protagonist. I think the protagonist's father was a professor. They met in elementary or junior high, and ended up in college together, where Til did a dance about a basilisk and villagers being eaten or fighting or something. I believe the book was first person, and it was not set in the 80s, maybe the 60s or 70s?
posted by jeather at 7:44 AM - 3 answers

June 10

it was then I became enlightened

Some time ago I ran across a wordy - verbose - story about the practice of meditation. Essentially, a novice approached the master about all the chanting and meditation and koans, asking how this was supposed to work, and the moaster gives a very longwinded response about overthining and analytical obsession and breaking through. Do you know it? [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:52 PM - 3 answers

June 9

Yet another forgotten short story question

Help me remember this short story about a woman who...kills people by dating them? I think. [more inside]
posted by holborne at 11:46 AM - 8 answers

Chinese calendars are hard.

While vacationing in Beijing, I got this cute little desk calendar. There are characters on each day that I can't understand the meaning of. Pictures here.. Can anyone solve this very minor mystery? [more inside]
posted by Fig at 10:58 AM - 7 answers

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