Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


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Rutte has an accent. Get over it

My mother frequently complains about how poorly Spanish people (and politicians specifically) speak English. This is kind of the flip-side to that; the Dutch have a crazy-good level of English. “Nine in ten Dutch people think they speak better English than most other Dutch people, according to our research at the University of Cambridge. I’m no mathematician, but this seems statistically improbable.”

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Arguing over “over”

This is related to my post for this coming Tuesday, but it’s a good read on its own (if you’re into this kind of thing). A sample: “If you have good reason to think that a significant number of your readers care about a certain point of usage and that the value of pleasing them outweighs the risk of vexing other readers who might care differently plus the cost in time of making the needed changes, then go ahead and stick to that rule. Otherwise, do what you like.”

Stroppy Editor

I’ve been ignoring the American civil war, even though it broke out just down the corridor from where I was sitting two weeks ago.

In short: the AP Stylebook announced a change to its guidance: “over, as well as more than, is acceptable to indicate greater numerical value”. So AP now approves of statements such as “I slept for over an hour” and will no longer insist on “I slept for more than an hour”.

According to Peter Sokolowski, who was in that very room, AP cited “overwhelming evidence” that this usage was common and commonly accepted, and said that it was “futile to fight the tide”.

War then broke out.

Apparently, this is a big thing among US logophiles. Lots of people immediately jumped up (literally and virtually) to cheer or damn the decision. Peter has more detail.

I, like my country as a whole, have…

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The world’s population on the move

Maps + immigrants. One thing I love and one thing I am. It’s a winning combo!

Expat Since Birth

In a recent article, Nick Stockton comments on a study published in Science where “a team of geographers (from the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital in Vienna) used data snapshots to create a broad analysis of global migrations over 20 years”.

This kind of study is quite hard “because each country has its own methodology for collecting census data”.

We often see demographic mesurements shown in static graphics and tables that hardly give us a clear picture of how people are moving over a certain period of time. These circular migration plots (cfr. Circos, a software frequently used in genetics) allow to observe the flow of migration over a given time.

Where everyone in the world is migratingWhere everyone in the world is migrating

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In Defense of Talking Funny

This is from a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster about different ways of talkin’ American and how many of the ways which are perceived as wrong are actually just different.

harm·less drudg·ery

[Ed. note: Five months! I know. My (very poor) excuse is that I was working on another big project that I can’t tell you about yet. In the meantime, here’s an extra-long post to pay you back for the extra-long wait.]

I was talking with a friend–well, a “friend”–about some of the videos we were about to shoot for M-W. We were at a crowded, chic-chic restaurant, the type of place where the waiters pull your chair out for you and ask if you want sparkling, still, or mineral water. In short, a place far above my usual grab-and-go, paper-napkins milieu. A place where it behooves you to not only look smart, but sound smart. A place where you’d use the word “behoove.”

So I was behooving, using some expansive vocabulary and trying not to think about how I was paying $12 for a glass of wine when…

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Introducing Indo-European Jones

Sentence first

It started on Twitter, as these things often do. I read a comment about linguists and lexicographers being to language ‘what grave robbers are to archeology’ (the context: hatred of the newly popular because X phrase), and I tweeted it with a raised eyebrow.

Jonathon Owen replied that he wished he’d been given a ‘leather jacket, bullwhip, and fedora’ upon graduation, James Callan said he wanted to see an ‘Indiana Jones pastiche focused on a linguist’, and I felt it was a meme waiting to happen. So without further ado, let me introduce Indo-European Jones (or Indy for short).

James got the giant boulder ball rolling (click on images to enlarge):

stan carey - Indo-European Jones meme - this belongs in the OED - James Callan

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