Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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January 16

Informing my plot: in case of disaster, what would YOU do?

This year, I'm turning 50 and my goal is to finish one post-apocalypse novel before my birthday (given that I started writing in that genre age 12). So, without telling my story here, and thus rendering it unnecessary to write, please tell me... [more inside]
posted by b33j at 3:21 PM - 55 answers

Help me remember a half-forgotten quote about crickets and silence

I've been trying to remember both the wording and the source of a quote I once heard to the effect of "If you want to make a loud noise, be so quiet you can hear the crickets, then take away the crickets." I heard (or read?) this in the context of writing poetry, and I feel like it may have been connected to Basho in some way--but I might be thinking that just because he wrote about crickets a lot. I have googled to no avail, but I may just suck at googling.
posted by dersins at 9:14 AM - 2 answers

January 13

Chinese translation for chili cookoff

My dad would like a Chinese translation of this phrase, as you might see it on a sign: ALL HAIL THE ORANGE EMPEROR. Mandarin or Cantonese is fine, he just wants it to look cool as a sign and translate accurately if someone can read it. [more inside]
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:32 PM - 12 answers

Name of zone around bomb during diffusal

I am trying to remember a term for a specific zone designated around a bomb during its diffusal. Something about only certain people being able to pass through, or exchange places during the disposal operation. The term may apply to the rules followed in that zone, rather than the zone itself. [more inside]
posted by 0bvious at 9:26 AM - 13 answers

it puts the tape measure in it's home...

tell me about this word please: footarackasacky [more inside]
posted by chasles at 7:24 AM - 6 answers

January 11

Help me find this book about interdimensional conflict at a sci-fi con

I think the novel was published within the past three years or so and written by a female author, maybe with a first name starting with D? I'm sure it focuses on a science fiction convention and beings from other dimensions coming into the hotel and various intrigues. Ring any bells?
posted by overglow at 11:25 AM - 5 answers

January 10

GrammarFilter: How many plurals?

In the subject line of a regulatory filing that is being submitted to multiple dockets, do I say "Docket Nos. XXX & YYY" or "Dockets Nos. XXX & YYY"? [more inside]
posted by nickmark at 12:54 PM - 14 answers

January 6

Translation of bits from an Azerbaijani Wikipedia page

I'm looking for a translation of a few bits on a particular Azerbaijani Wikipedia page. [more inside]
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:03 PM - 8 answers

Against Athens

We tend to see much of the pre-Roman ancient world through Athenian eyes, because Athens produced so much literature, history, philosophy and sculpture. But there was a big world beyond Attica that gets misrepresented as a result. I'm looking for books or articles that correct this distorted view. [more inside]
posted by 8k at 3:16 AM - 9 answers

January 5

Horror stories about authors writing fiction about their mothers

I'm looking for cautionary tales about authors who wrote fiction with thinly-veiled or semi-autobiographical or explicitly acknowledged characters based on their real mothers. [more inside]
posted by alicat at 9:56 AM - 11 answers

January 4

First language acquisition age: does it differ by language?

Does the age of first language acquisition differ by language? [more inside]
posted by knapah at 6:15 AM - 11 answers

January 3

What is this sort-of sentence diagramming?

In grade school, we did some grammatical analysis that isn't quite sentence diagramming. What is it? [more inside]
posted by quadrilaterals at 1:15 PM - 4 answers

Accents

I have three accent questions: 1. What modern accents are closest to the sound of English before and after the Great Vowel Shift? 2. Where (as exactly as you can place it) did the stereotypical salty seaman accent come from? 3. What accent do dictionaries use in their IPA pronunciation guides? (And do prescriptive and descriptive dictionaries approach pronunciation differently?)
posted by clawsoon at 9:15 AM - 8 answers

January 1

Quotes and references about seeing a person clearly (or not)?

I'm looking for quotes that refer to the idea of perceiving another person-- either perceiving a person clearly and correctly or perceiving a person incorrectly. Bonus points for quotes that are literary. [more inside]
posted by Mystical Listicle at 6:00 PM - 13 answers

December 30, 2016

Looking for a Soviet-era Russian word

When I learned Russian many years ago, I was taught a Soviet-era word that meant something like "failure to over-fulfil your production quota" (in the context of the Stakhanovites/shock workers). It's very apposite to a situation I'm in, and I can now neither remember it, nor assemble a google search to find it. Can anyone help a tovarishch out?
posted by Vortisaur at 1:40 PM - 7 answers

December 24, 2016

Primer on how to recognize bullshit and misinformation?

With the topic being in the news, I recalled a fairly lengthy and detailed primer that made the rounds a few years ago on the subject of identifying misinformation, propaganda and bullshit. It may also have had tips on proper research and how to find good sources of information, and was primarily focused on the media. I can remember it's title, though, and I can't find it! Does anyone have it bookmarked or know it?
posted by backwards compatible at 3:00 AM - 6 answers

December 22, 2016

Tips on writing for ESL readers.

I do a lot of work-related communication with people whose English is less than 100% fluent, and sometimes there are miscommunications that I think result from incomplete comprehension of the things that I say. I'd like to do what I can to minimize that. [more inside]
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:48 AM - 13 answers

December 20, 2016

Poem about differences of introverts, extroverts, ambiverts.

So years ago I found this small bit of poetry which really seemed/seems to nail that question. I had it taped to a bathroom mirror, somehow it got lost in the shuffle of my life, moving here there etc and etc. I can remember the first bit, about the introvert, and I remember the general gist of the bits about the extrovert and the ambivert. I have no idea where I clipped it from, no idea who wrote it, search engines are not helping, I'm hoping that you can. [more inside]
posted by dancestoblue at 3:19 AM - 2 answers

December 19, 2016

Delightful absurd complexities

My friend is writing a book, in which a character makes a list of things that are absurdly complex in a delightful way. But we need more, especially from the non-US/UK world! See inside for some examples... [more inside]
posted by exceptinsects at 9:07 AM - 53 answers

December 16, 2016

Contemporary Japanese Literature (in English)

Any recommendations? I'm particularly looking for reasonably priced paperbacks - novels, short stories, anthologies.
posted by andrewcooke at 6:37 PM - 11 answers

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