Blurt!Commonplace Book

Language Hat

“Respondents explained that they found spellings with u to be less confusing because that spelling kept the initial letter in common with usual — as long as a silent e was there at the end to cue the pronunciation of the u away from the sound in untie. I find this resolution elegant in its clunkiness: Solving the problem of two unwritten sounds by writing a further, unpronounced letter is a truly Englishy solution.”

posted Dec. 26, 2022, 8:00pm

“In the Hopi language surukaphe means ‘tail coffee’, or coffee watered down to make it go further. In Brazilian Portuguese slang, chafé means ‘bad coffee’, a blend of the words for ‘tea’ and ‘coffee’. Then there’s cholo in Louisiana French, from chaud-l’eau, or ‘hot water’.”

posted Dec. 1, 2022, 8:00pm

“[A] multilingual person’s dominant language can sometimes take a bigger hit in certain scenarios. For example, in that colour naming task described earlier, it can take longer for a participant to recall a word in their first language when switching from their second, compared to the other way around.”

posted Oct. 22, 2022, 8:00pm

“The cult of untranslatables goes beyond orientalism. They spread, meme-like, with the same misleading explanations repeated. Often, they hew suspiciously closely to stereotypes about the culture in question.”

posted Jan. 11, 2020, 11:59am