Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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July 2

Recommendations for book club books, shorter than about 320 pages

Reasonably new book club, small number of members with variable reading experience and diverse tastes. We're aiming for books not to be longer than around 320 pages. We don't want anything too bleak, or too sentimental. No explicit sex. [more inside]
posted by paduasoy at 3:42 AM - 15 answers

June 30

How do I respond when co-workers keep spelling my name wrong?

My name is Sarah, with an H, and a handful of co-workers keep spelling it 'Sara' in emails and documents. How do I best respond to this? [more inside]
posted by knownassociate at 10:02 AM - 68 answers

June 28

How do you know if you're a good editor? How do you get better?

I've heard people say that writers make terrible editors, but I feel like I might be good at it?! I at least know that I enjoy doing it, and would like to do it more. I value critical feedback and find myself wishing for some kind of workshop to assess and build my editing skills. Does such a thing exist? How do editors become editors, anyhow? In short: How do you know if you're a good editor, how do you get better at it, and how do you find more editing work? Looking for personal anecdotes and resource recommendations. More details below the cut! [more inside]
posted by adastra at 10:56 AM - 6 answers

June 27

Can you read this Chinese hallmark?

I work at an auction house and we have received an enameled vessel with a hallmark we can't identify. Can you help? [more inside]
posted by shibori at 4:53 AM - 1 answers

June 25

Whither the word "yeppers"?

Without thinking about it, I used the word "yeppers" (meaning "yes") in an email to my mom. She'd never heard it before, and I can't think of where I might have picked it up. Where did this word come from, and how long has it been circulating?
posted by heatherlogan at 8:08 AM - 21 answers

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 - 22 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 - 35 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 - 14 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 - 11 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 - 28 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

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