We all know there are differences between American English and British English, but what about all the regional varieties in one country?
BuzzFeed has written a handy article based on a dialect survey completed at Harvard University, so you can figure out whether you need to call your “tennis shoes” “sneakers” or vice versa almost anywhere in the country.
What’s really interesting is that these differences provoke so much debate – I’m fairly sure those few who call a “water fountain” a “bubbler” would defend their right to do so vigorously!
Why not find out about some regional differences in other languages, by taking a Russian class in Washington DC for example?
Have you ever felt really lazy, so lazy you can’t be bothered to do anything, go anywhere? Well, that feeling has a word – viitsima.
But only in Estonian. A former student at the Royal College of Art in London amassed words from other languages we don’t have in English. The Taiwanese design student collected words from her international cohort to display in an infographic.
Lin’s exercise yields weird moments of recognition: Even if the word doesn’t exist in English, the feeling is vaguely familiar. “People are able to understand the emotion even though they don’t have a word for it,” she said, adding that appropriated words such as schadenfreude make it clear we can feel what we can’t express in one word. (Source: Globe and Mail)
Are there any words from other languages we should have in English? Or maybe the way around this is to learn a new language by taking Chinese classes in Toronto perhaps?
To round off this month of words of the year, banished words and annoying phrases, let’s take a look at a list of words that were once considered professional jargon, but are now in everyday use.
The most interesting (for me) of a list that includes contact, antibody and reliable, is interview.
While interview may have been a proper alternative to contact in 1931, people weren’t always friendly to it, at least in the sense where it means the asking of questions by members of the press. An 1882 book on rhetoric describes how this verb was “first accepted in jest, then violently denounced, and finally, by a strange fate, it appears to be accepted with mournful resignation.” In 1890, a New York Times article took to task the “newspaper fiends who have forced us to admit to the rights of citizenship the verb ‘to interview.’” (Source: Mental Floss)
Take a look at the rest of the list over at Mental Floss.
On the flip side of words of the year, there are the obligatory words that should be banished.
Lake Superior State University’s been issuing this list for 38 years now, although sadly it’s not had a great effect (people still say baby bump for example). What words and phrases have they deemed unworthy this year?
Fiscal cliff. This was the word that got the most nominations — surprise, surprise — because it was everywhere. “If Congress acts to keep the country from tumbling over the cliff, LSSU believes this banishment should get some of the credit,” the school explains.
Bucket list. Yes, this is horrible. “Getting this phrase on the Banished Word List is on my bucket list!” said Frederick Fish of Georgia.
Guru. As a job title or designation of expertise, so obnoxious. (Source: Atlantic Wire)
Which word or phrase would you banish in 2013?
Yep, it’s not just the Merriam-Webster people who get to decide on a word of the year – other countries have their own version.
My favourite from this round-up by Mental Floss is:
8. Ogooglebar, Swedish
Instead of picking one word of the year, the Swedes, in their egalitarian way, make a list of all the new words of the year. The Swedish Language Council announced their annual list of words that “show that language is a result of an ongoing democratic process in which we all participate.” This year there were 40 words on the list. Some of them were straight English borrowings, such as “brony,” some were references to local scandals like Tintingate, and some were pure Swedish, like henifiera (henify), referring to the practice of replacing the gendered “he” and “she” pronouns in Swedish (han and hon) with the neutral hen. Since mental_floss protocol demands a heading for this list item, however, I chose the delightful, bouncy ogooglebar. It means “ungoogleable.”
Take a look at the rest of the list here.
It’s still a few weeks until Valentine’s Day, but it’s never too early to brush up on your definitions of love.
Brain Pickings is here to help, listing some famous definitions from 200 years of literary history. One of my favourites is this quote from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin:
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
What’s your favourite definition?
Which word or phrase bugs you most?
If it’s “whatever”, you’re in good company as Americans have voted it their most annoying word for the fourth consecutive year. The Marist Poll showed that 32% of Americans have this view, closely followed by “like”, at 21%. This figure is slightly down from last year though, when 38% of Americans thought “whatever” was the most annoying word they heard in conversation.
Other words that irritate include “you know”, “just sayin’” and “Twitterverse”.
Source: Marist Poll
It’s the final post of 2012, and what better to write about than the Word of the Year?
Or rather, words. Merriam-Webster, America’s oldest dictionary, announced that for the first time two words made it as the word(s) of the year. Described as a “pairing of a kind”, the words are socialism and capitalism.
Editor at large Peter Sokolowski stated that the two went hand in hand and were often looked up at the same time. It’s thought the words were so prominent because of the health care debate and the presidential election.
Other words that made it in to the top 10 include:
Touche, thanks in part to “Survivor” contestant Kat Edorsson misusing the word to mean “tough luck” rather than “point well made,” before she was voted off the island in May. Look-ups at Merriam-webster.com were up sevenfold this year over 2011.
Professionalism, up 12 percent this year over last. Sokolowski suspects the bump might have been due to the bad economy and more job seekers, or a knowing “glimpse into what qualities people value.” (Source: Huffington Post)
Yesterday I posted about Christmas songs in different languages, and now it’s time to wish you a very happy Christmas, again in a few different languages! So….
Miilaad Majiid (Arabic), Joyeux Noël (French), Frohe Weinachten (German), Buon Natale (Italian), Meri Kurisumasu (Japanese), Shèng dàn kuài lè (Mandarin), Feliz Natal (Portugese), Feliz Navidad (Spanish), and finally Merry Christmas!
Try this Omniglot page for more translations in more languages, including some audio recordings.
Happy holidays from everyone at Listen & Learn!
Google is one of the most widely used search engines in the world. It’s so popular, that “google” (as in “google it”) became an dictionary-recognised verb in 2006.
But what about if you’re overseas and want to tell someone to “just google it already?” If they speak English, you’re in luck. If they don’t, you might want to consult this handy list of how to pronounce “Google” in 18 different languages.
Atlantic Wire put together the list, and you can view their Prezi of it over at their site. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Spanish — googlear and guglear
Polish – olish — googlować
Greek — γκουγκλάρω (googlaro)
Hungarian — googlizni (gúglizni) or googölözni (gúgölözni)