random thoughts to oil the mind

Tag: Language Page 1 of 2

Daily Links

What If English Were Phonetically Consistent? – Seriously impressive little piece of Thespian skill, almost like going through the English fossil record.

The Rogue Consultant – One man fed up with Brexit has decided to say it loud. One van, 32 countries, 30,000 km, two words.

Auditorium – A playful mix of colour and music all packaged in a little Flash game.

Badger or Bulbasaur – have children lost touch with nature? – Young children are now more capable at identifying Pokémon than real animals.

[Photo by Hans Veth on Unsplash]

Return to Monolingualism

Over the years I’ve run through a number of plugins on this blog, many just for fun, adding non-essential little features for giggles or purely for show. Often the plugins run their course within a few years, going through a period of rising popularity with improvements, additions and occasional feature bloat, before ultimately overwhelming the poor one-man development band who subsequently goes silent and drops all support for their once pet project. Sometimes the functionality is superseded by happenings elsewhere – another plugin, an external service offering their own widgets, added functionality in the core – but othertimes the plugin just slumbers by the wayside and it falls to the community to pick up the pieces and carry on the torch.

So it is with the demise of the latest multilingual plugin. I’m honestly unsure how many different plugins I’ve used over the years, but certainly watched the demise of Polyglot, Language Switcher, qTranslate and most recently qTranslate-X. A new champion has started up a project to continue the crusade, but I honestly don’t have the energy or enthusiasm to mount up and join. For a blog with a readership slightly smaller than its authorship, it hardly warrants the effort.

The current plugin, qTranslate-X, seems doomed to break with the integration of the Gutenberg editor at the latest, but as ever with any unsupported software, it will fall on its heels sooner or later, so I’m determined to deactivate it and return to a monolingual setup. That will mean cleaning a lot of SQL tables and perhaps duplicating some contents for a few posts, but long-term it’s an easier prospect than hunting for another horse to back and watching it flogged to death like all the others.

[Photo by Lucas Gallone on Unsplash]

On Lady Mondegreen’s Eggcorns

Imperfection is part and parcel of how we communicate, and one of the beautiful things about the evolution of language is how little imperfections can create entirely new constructs, as words and phrases are misheard, misunderstood, misinterpreted and misstated. One of my favourite examples in this regard is the ‘mondegreen’, a term normally used to denote a misheard song lyric, although it originated with a line of poetry:

Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry

The poor victim Lady Mondegreen was in fact Sylvia Wright’s interpretation of hearing the true line: And laid him on the green.

However, aside from causing amusement and consternation, there’s only so much a misheard lyric can contribute to the language. But a word I came across today covers a much broader spectrum for when people mishear words and parse them through their own filters to make sense of the noise: eggcorns. The word itself has a cute origin: when you’re told for the first time that the egg-shaped seed in your hand is an ‘acorn’, thinking you heard ‘eggcorn’ seems a natural enough assumption.

Here’s a great list of some of the more common eggcorns around. It’s particularly interesting when more archaic words end up being given a new lease of life, such as when talking about testing your metal, or transforming the Spanish cucaracha into the more familiar cockroach.

[Image courtesy of Tamara Menzi @ unsplash.com]

La bise

Nicely made video from an English comedian showing us just why can’t get on board with European greetings (and how to get around it!).

Photo by Pedro Gandra (https://unsplash.com/pedrogandra)

Daily Links

Das geteilte Land – Looking at Germany after 25 years of union. Statistics show how much remains of the former East.

Spearfishing Orang-utan – A beautiful image of an Orang-utan on Borneo using a stick to try to hunt passing fish, presumably learned from watching nearby villagers.

Linguistic Ignorantisms – Nice list of words grammar nazis would find difficult to use with a straight face.

Further and Farther: A Theory – Go far and wide, go farrer and wider! Go forth and multiply, go further and multiplier!

Alice in a World of Wonderlands – A look at one of the most widely translated (untranslatable) works of literature in the world.

Some Rules of Language are Wired in the Brain – A Scientific American article shows how looking at synaesthesia might give some clues into our understanding of words.

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