Questions in the Writing & Language category.
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September 17

"Speed Kills", but what did it kill first?

I've seen and heard the phrase "Speed kills" in a few different contexts, and I'd like to know where it originated. Where did it come from? [more inside]
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:53 PM - 8 answers

Help with Mexican Spanish/Spanglish cursing?

Profanity filter: For a story I'm writing, I need some help with a bit of cursing in Spanish (specifically Mexican). Putting the rest behind the cut for bad language.... [more inside]
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 8:32 AM - 11 answers

September 16

French à la Québecoise

I am looking for French courses in Quebec to do next year, can anyone point me in the right direction? More details inside. [more inside]
posted by iamsuper at 4:23 AM - 9 answers

September 15

An appropriate penpal matching service for an idealistic tween

So, the young human who lives in my house wants a penpal. She's a wholesome, happy tween. And we want to keep her that way. She says she "just wants to connect with and learn about someone else who has a different life." I'm thinking another tween, maybe someone outside the US who wants to practice their English. How do we find this person and connect them, without accidentally exposing her to a chester-chester child molester or something?
posted by pomegranate at 10:33 AM - 8 answers

September 12

Searching for the right word[s]

Is there a thesaurus for idioms? Previous Asks focus on trying to find idioms that contain a given single word, a dictionary for which exists. What I want is to look up phrases based on similar meaning. My specific need is looking up different ways to say "call [someone] on the telephone" ["give me up buzz", "hit up my cell"], NOT idioms that include the words "call" or "telephone".
posted by smokysunday at 5:03 PM - 3 answers

September 11

Concatenating Bad Decisions

What is the term for a chain of bad decisions based on misperception of a situation that leads to each additional decision making the situation worse? [more inside]
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:23 PM - 24 answers

September 10

Looking for poetic, lyrical, music

I've seen a host of topics about music recommendations here, even some very similar to my request, however they aren't quite I guess in the same vain as what I'm looking for. Any help? [more inside]
posted by MrFahrenheit at 10:17 AM - 35 answers

September 8

Please help ID this short horror story

I'm trying to find a short story collection I read in the last 10 years, mostly horror I think, one story in particular sticks in my memory. [more inside]
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 4:59 PM - 9 answers

What's the non-English language used in this video?

When I was little, I adored the Sesame Street song "Put Down the Duckie." But I was always confused by the celebrity mashup version, which included one guest who didn't sing in English. My parents thought she was singing in Hawaiian, but coming back to it after getting two linguistics degrees, I'm not certain. Can anyone here tell?
posted by dialMforMara at 3:34 PM - 6 answers

September 5

Is there a better term than "empty rhetoric" for this kind of response?

Is there a good term for the rhetorical tactic of responding to a suggestion of a specific course of action ("We should ban guns") with broadly agreed-on facts that don't address the suggested course of action? ("Obviously, murder is bad, and I can guarantee solving a problem with multiple causes is never straightforward.") [more inside]
posted by paul_smatatoes at 6:58 AM - 19 answers

Looking for fiction where character's fiction appears

So I'm writing a story where a character is losing her mind and also writing a book, parts of which appear in the text. Her losing her mind affects the development of the chapters I'm including in the story. Looking for literary models. [more inside]
posted by angrycat at 4:39 AM - 36 answers

September 4

Scrambling to learn French in 10 weeks --

What are the best books/podcasts/vocab lists/online resources/whatever to learn as much practical French as possible in 10 weeks? Difficulty level: preparing to stay in Paris for a week, but happy if I only make a moderate ass of myself. [more inside]
posted by miltthetank at 3:42 PM - 16 answers

Coinages Whose Pronunciations Took on a Life of Their Own

I'm looking for examples of terms that were created by a specific, known person, who had a particular way of pronouncing them, but that are pronounced differently by the general public. This can either be because the original pronunciation never caught on, or because they just changed over time. [more inside]
posted by ErWenn at 1:24 PM - 26 answers

Basic books on writing?

Can you recommend any basic books on writing (particularly essay writing) for adults? [more inside]
posted by mosst at 7:30 AM - 7 answers

September 3

LIttle black and white images

Following up this question about this poster I just framed, is there a specialized term for the small black and white images on the poster?
posted by ShooBoo at 8:41 PM - 4 answers

September 2

Alternative Heisig hiragana stories?

We're learning hiragana and katakana as a family (and eventually kanji). Somebody recommended Heisig, who has written short stories about each character to help you remember them. The first two hiragana lessons were great, and everything has stuck fast in our minds. Lesson three, and it starts to get real weird, with dagger-ejecting mothers spinning in fields accompanied by levitating dogs attached to boomerangs. [more inside]
posted by some little punk in a rocket at 10:45 PM - 5 answers

Help! Chinese source, named in English, mentioned in Korean document?

I'm stumbling my way through a Korean-language investment bank report and came across interesting data that is cited with the English-language name of a Chinese source. I can't identify anything by the name given. [more inside]
posted by Glomar response at 6:00 PM - 3 answers

September 1

What does this keychain mean?

Can anyone give me some info on what this keychain means?
posted by sacrifix at 7:22 PM - 4 answers

August 29

Books about specific urban animals for kids

My students enjoy learning about animals, and we are going to be incorporating some real-world observations of animal habitats around our neighborhood along with research into a unit we're doing this fall. Help us find good books! [more inside]
posted by mai at 9:22 AM - 6 answers

August 28

Seeking fiction recommendations--what's your favorite?

I'm looking for books to read! [more inside]
posted by zeusianfog at 1:59 PM - 32 answers

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