Blogos

It’s all relative

What is wrong with the following sentence (other than the obvious heartbreak): “The thing is, is John just doesn’t love me anymore” ? It’s the fake relative pronoun. A relative pronoun, obviously, is a word that begins a relative clause. In the sentence just previous to this one, the word is “that;” essentially, this pronoun...

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Making up language

Vanity Fair, that bastion of linguistic knowledge, recently published an article on the creation of Na’vi, a constructed “alien” language used in the upcoming $400 million flick Avatar. There’s a bit of phonetic explanation, though not much, and a sound clip. I’m quite curious how linguist Paul Frommer came up with his linguistic hodge-podge; director...

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Love by any other name

A rose by any other name would be as sweet, Shakespeare tells us, but not everyone agrees. An NY Times article sent in by an alert reader tells a different tale: words in other languages just may not mean as much to everyone.  As someone who generally feels at ease in cultures not my own,...

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Language — what we have in common?

Once thought of differentiator between humans and other animals, perhaps we are now learning that language is something we have in common. The New York Times reports from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a study of monkeys in Africa finds them putting conditional suffixes on sounds—or shall we say words? Klaus...

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A Language Gap: Kurdish and Arabic

Recent reports from the Iraq Programme of the Institute of War & Peace Reporting indicate a continuing language problem between Arabic-speaking Iraq and its Kurdish-speaking neighbors. “Though they share the same country, Arabs and Kurds know little of each other’s history and even less today of each other’s languages,” writes Husam al-Saray, a journalist in...

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Lost in localization

Maziar Bahari was imprisoned for interview on The Daily Show. Maziar Bahari is a Canadian Iranian journalist. He was interviewed by Jason Jones of “The Daily Show” when Jones was in Iran during the upheaval earlier this year. If you are not familiar with “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, it is a US-based satirical...

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Microsoft Word 2010 Translation

“Learn how you can translate entire documents easily with Microsoft Word 2010 Translation features by watching this quick tutorial,” claims a recently-posted video on Windows 7 Forums. The video shows just how easy this is. You click “translate” and the pop-up notification warns (as you can see if you hit pause on this video): “Word...

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Striking a blow for idioms

A book on “novel”-sounding idioms in ten languages will save you the trouble of learning the languages yourself, according to Jag Bhalla, the author of I’m not Hanging Noodles on your Ears and other Intriguing Idioms from around the World, a collection of 1,200 idioms from National Geographic Books, illustrated by New Yorker cartoonist Julia...

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Sand calligraphy

Feast your eyes on these pretty symbols. No, they don’t necessarily fit together into a meaning message, but who can complain when looking at beautiful calligraphy on a gorgeous beach with the light hitting the symbols “just right”? (The characters in this piece take their inspiration mainly from the Adinkra symbols of the Akan people...

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