Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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February 27

What book was it?

Bookfilter: I'm trying to locate a book I read as a child in the late 70's/early 80's. It was a (or in the style of) a Victorian melodrama, but written in a dry, humorous style. There were a few Tenniel-like illustrations here and there but it was mostly text. The little I remember is below the fold... [more inside]
posted by ninazer0 at 9:29 PM - 3 answers

February 26

Books like Jan Karon or James Herriot

What to read after she's finished the Jan Karon books? [more inside]
posted by ldthomps at 8:16 AM - 14 answers

February 24

Canny, like.

A young baby in our family is very alert, active and friendly and my sister and myself both found ourselves referring to her as 'canny'. But when we were asked what the word means, and why it applies to her, we couldn't quite explain it. Is there any one on here, probably from the North of England, who could have a go at explaining 'canny', meaning and usage (and possibly derivation?)
posted by glasseyes at 3:46 PM - 17 answers

February 23

Metaphors similar to this one?

I'm working on a project and I'm looking for metaphors that describe the relationship between a secret and the covering it is embedded in. I'm looking at examples from nature--like a pearl in an oyster for example. It's a loose metaphor really, as long as that which is embedded is precious and sought after, and the covering which envelops it doesn't really signal that there is anything of value inside. Ideas?
posted by omar.a at 9:08 PM - 17 answers

Help me translate station wagon to French and Spanish!

What do people in France, Spain, and Mexico call a (station) wagon in common usage in their native languages? Is "break" correct for France? I think I'm missing the subtleties when Googling here. (And "estate" is correct for the UK, right?) Thank you!
posted by jroybal at 5:59 PM - 11 answers

Anyone see a 27-Tau-3832-Beta-Rho-44 come through here?

Is there a system that describes and measures appearances of humans precisely? [more inside]
posted by michaelh at 2:08 PM - 6 answers

February 20

Sci-Fi book where people switch their sex each year until 18?

Help me find a book where the characters switch between boy and girl each year and must decide as an adult which sex/gender they'll remain for the rest of their lives. [more inside]
posted by threesquare at 1:12 PM - 3 answers

February 19

The title of the book woulda been the title of this question...

This is probably ways too long of a shot here, but I need help remembering the title of any book in this series. It's been bugging me for days...very sketchy details inside! [more inside]
posted by zinful at 8:11 PM - 6 answers

February 18

Car man hates person man. They have a fight, car wins.

Asking for fiction: this question involves no real people at all. What would happen to a person who gets their leg pinned between a revving car and a building? How long would it take for such an injury to heal? [more inside]
posted by angrycat at 6:52 AM - 13 answers

February 13

Cultural Rules of Thumb

The advice to "always look both ways before you cross the street" is fairly common in the United States but I once heard of someone from another culture reacting to the concept like it was a genius-level epiphany. He was amazed by what many school children would consider a simple rule of thumb. I'd like to collect a similar set of idioms that might be seen in that way: common in their country of origin, but unknown (and potentially useful) in other parts of the world.
posted by Jeff Howard at 10:56 AM - 13 answers

Chinese/Taishanese translation for short bits of a news report?

I'll provide the link in the extended, but in a 2 minute news report for a local culinary school I'm interested in knowing what the student is saying in Chinese and I'm wondering if I can get any help in that regard. This report is from a San Francisco Chinese-language news station, and I expect the students are just talking about their intended careers and the school experience, but would love to know precisely what they're saying. Can anyone help out? [more inside]
posted by kalessin at 8:49 AM - 5 answers

February 12

Help me set a realistic language learning goal

I work with many (Latin American) Spanish speaking families. I would like to be able to communicate with them, even a little. Help me figure out a realistic plan to acquire more language skills this summer. [more inside]
posted by raspberrE at 3:54 PM - 20 answers

Why do questions on Quora read like they were written by a robotic 9yro?

Are Quora questions all written/edited to follow a stringent style? [more inside]
posted by bystander at 2:10 PM - 9 answers

Help with deciphering signatures

Can anybody help with deciphering the lastnames on these two signatures? [more inside]
posted by Thing at 9:33 AM - 25 answers

What is this "to"?

Please explain the meaning of "to" in these sentences. Does it mean "in the direction of sth, towards sth"? It is not easy for me to get the nuance of this preposition here. 1 I rose to my feet. 2 I helped him to his feet. 3 I jumped to my feet. Thank you.
posted by mizukko at 6:06 AM - 18 answers

February 11

Getting information into my head faster?

I use text-to-speech (TTS) on my phone to read books and articles while I'm walking. Is there a more efficient way to translate text into sound that would allow me to listen to the text faster? Is there any research on this? Are there any products to look into? [more inside]
posted by gregr at 8:50 PM - 6 answers

What is this old Sci-Fi Short-Story/Novelette?

I'm trying to identify/find this pre-1980 story set in America, about an epidemic (highly contagious, spread skin-to-skin) where everyone's turns grey and the victims have hallucinations. The protagonist is on the run (along with a woman?), trying to escape roaming victims (who have a craving to touch his uninfected skin). In that last aspect, it has a zombie apocalypse feel to it. I believe it was a little-known work by a big-name author. Can anyone tell me what it is? SPOILERS BELOW [more inside]
posted by Sceadugenga at 12:55 PM - 6 answers

Natural Acquisition of Grammar/Usage Skills

I'm curious to hear the experiences of people with good writing skills who were raised in families with poor language usage. [more inside]
posted by Quisp Lover at 12:43 PM - 31 answers

I do not sound like this

What's it called when people write like they talk, or don't? What's it called when people hear the voice of the writer when they read the words?
posted by michaelh at 11:13 AM - 17 answers

February 8

Take Me Away

I've got a 2 week staycation coming up, and I need some solid novel recommendations. I don't care about genre at all -- I just want something totally gripping, well-written and transporting. [more inside]
posted by ohyouknow at 11:10 PM - 31 answers

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