Language
Language Sites on the Internet. "For those of you who, like me, are heels over head in love with the English language," this site offers a multiplicity of links to sites concentrating on "etymology," "grammar and usage," "puns," and "word games," plus reference works including "dictionaries and thesauri." 
The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Ever Forgotten -- Click here to check it out at Amazon.com
The Word Detective -- Click here to check it out at Amazon.com The Word Detective on the Web "is the online version of the Word Detective, a newspaper column answering readers' questions about words and language." Contains archived articles from seven years of back-issues.
World Wide Words -- Investigating International English from a British Viewpoint (by Michael Quinion) is an extensive and delightful site offering "articles," "topical words," "turns of phrase," "weird words," and links to "other words sites." 
The Dimwit's Dictionary: 5,000 Overused Words and Phrases and the Alternatives to Them -- Click here to check it out at Amazon.com

Call me Ishmael...  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ...  He died with a felafel in his hand.   The opening hook.  "It's a simple concept, reading is linear, time is finite. What keeps a reader reading is the opening hook... Now that you know what it's all about, why not browse the database? Or, if you already have some favorites in mind add a hook. Of course, if you just want some advice here are a few thoughts on what makes a great opening hook."

The Faux Faulkner and Imitation Hemingway Contests  "The writer who best captures the sound and the fury of Faulkner will receive two tickets on United Airlines to Memphis, Tennessee, for the Faulkner conference (where the winning entry is read), a rental car, and five nights' lodging at the University of Mississippi Alumni House. The writer of the best, clean, well-lighted Hemingway parody and a guest will be flown to Italy on United Airlines, courtesy of Hemispheres (the award-winning, internationally circulating magazine of travel, business, and leisure).

Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest:  "An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression 'the pen is mightier than the sword,' and phrases like 'the great unwashed' and 'the almighty dollar,' Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the Peanuts beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, 'It was a dark and stormy night.'"

  Lee Hobbs' English Blog featuring Bizarre English Metaphors and Similes contains gems such as:  
Thursday's Child &
The Queen of Swords
 
  •  "Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph."
  •  "John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met."
  •  "He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River."
  •  "He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up."
 
Thursday's Child & The Queen of Swords: 
Glamorous sleuth-couple Flora and Shamus delve into the underworld of call-girls, 
telephone psychics, crystal addicts, corrupt lawyers, and things that go bump in the night
comic mystery by
Rosalie Stafford

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery, Hundreds Dead ; Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant ; Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half ... these are just a few of the Best Headlines of 2003.  Would you believe A Ring of Debris around Uranus?

Haiku News:
want to win a prize?
encapsulate news events
in three simple lines.

Ron Hartung's Newsroom 101: Exercises in Grammar, Usage and Associated Press Style are "self-instructional exercises are based on issues of grammar, usage and AP style that arose at a daily newspaper. They are offered here for people who are learning copy editing." 

The Gallery of "Misused" Quotation Marks.  The webmaster "started this site almost four years ago was because [he] was at once amused and mystified by the peculiar usage of quotation marks."  Nice collection that will make you "slap" your "head" in "amazement" that "people" can be so "ignorant" of "proper" punctuation.

Computers as Authors? Literary Luddites Unite!   Author Daniel Akst's amusing New York Times article discusses a frightening trend: literary computers. "For some people, writing a novel is a satisfying exercise in self-expression. For me, it's a hideous blend of psychoanalysis and cannibalism that is barely potent enough to overcome a series of towering avoidance mechanisms - including my own computer. Writers and computers nowadays are locked in such an enduringly dysfunctional embrace that it can be hard to tell us apart. We both rely heavily on memory, for instance. We are both calculating, complex and crash-prone. And like Hebrew National hot dogs, we both seem to answer to a higher power: writers, according to Plato, were divinely inspired; computers have Bill Gates. "

The Gender Genie "Inspired by an article in The New York Times Magazine, the Gender Genie uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author."

WordCount "is an artistic experiment in the way we use language. It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonality... WordCount data currently comes from the British National Corpus®, a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent an accurate cross-section of current English usage."

Go to Amazon Thursday's Child &
The Queen of Swords

comic mystery by
Rosalie Stafford
 

Based on the participant-observer research of folklorist Rosalie Stafford, Thursday's Child & The Queen of Swords, a darkly comedic mystery-caper, faithfully – and hilariously – reports the speech patterns of meth addicts, call-girls, and New Age "psychics."  Caution: not politically correct!

Macmillan English Dictionary provides a chart of the most popular new words of 2004: nouse, googlewhacking, voice lift, and more ... as well as the annotated new word of the month.  Here's a delightful example: "brick venereal, noun, a derogatory term for a suburban, brick-veneer house, or a housing development in which most of the properties are of a similar, brick-veneer design. The expression is also used adjectivally as in, e.g.: a nondescript brick-venereal residence. It originates with Australian born novelist Kathy Lette, who in 1988 wrote the words: Most of this suburb suffers from brick venereal disease – blonde, brick double-garaged houses with pedicured lawns."

Figures of Speech "are combinations of word whose meanings cannot be determined by examination of the meanings of the words that make it up. ... Unless you recognize when an idiom is being used, you can easily misunderstand the meaning of a text." Here figures of speech such as simile and metaphor are defined with poetic examplars taken from the peerless King James Version.

Figures of Speech Tables, compiled by Professor Grant Williams for Nipissing University's English 3045E Studies in Early Modern Literature course, charts figures of speech such as "Tropes" and "Metaplasmic Figures," along with their definitions. (Tropes are figures which change the typical meaning of a word or words and metaplasmic figures are figures which move the letters or syllables of a word from the typical places. Figures of speech are further elucidated: under "Trope" is listed "Metaphor," "Metonymy," "Synecdoche," "Irony," "Metalepsis," and so on, as well as their definitions. Most useful!

Figures of Speech "are combinations of word whose meanings cannot be determined by examination of the meanings of the words that make it up. ... Unless you recognize when an idiom is being used, you can easily misunderstand the meaning of a text." Here figures of speech such as simile and metaphor are defined with poetic examplars taken from the peerless King James Version.

Figures of Speech Tables, compiled by Professor Grant Williams for Nipissing University's English 3045E Studies in Early Modern Literature course, charts figures of speech such as "Tropes" and "Metaplasmic Figures," along with their definitions. (Tropes are figures which change the typical meaning of a word or words and metaplasmic figures are figures which move the letters or syllables of a word from the typical places. Figures of speech are further elucidated: under "Trope" is listed "Metaphor," "Metonymy," "Synecdoche," "Irony," "Metalepsis," and so on, as well as their definitions. Most useful!

New Decoding Internet Lingo & Character Symbols: "[A]s computers have transformed communications a new dialect has emerged: internet lingo. Acronyms or character symbols called emoticons (mixing symbols to express emotions or moods) enable teens to communicate with others in a few keystrokes. While often just a convenient and quick means of communication, many teens use these acronyms and symbols to warn their friends when parents might be present and even to discuss drug use in a code that parents can’t decipher."   Defines neologisms including robotripping and pharming as well as acromyns such as KPC ("keeping parents clueless"), WYRN ("what's your real name?") and MOOS ("member of the opposite sex").
http://" and "Vaporlink n. A live link to a page that hasn't been written yet." Tone is sardonic and sometimes sophomoric, but of interest to the blognoscenti.

The Forest of Rhetoric explains: "This online Rhetoric, provided by Dr. Gideon Burton of Brigham Young University, is a guide to the terms of classical and renaissance rhetoric.... This site is intended to help beginners, as well as experts make sense of rhetoric, both on the small scale (definitions and examples of specific terms) and on the large scale (the purposes of rhetoric, the patterns into which it has fallen historically as it has been taught and practiced for 2000+ years."

Glossary of Literary and Rhetorical Terms by Jack Lynch of Rutgers University, offers links to many fascinating tidbits, from "Affective Fallacy," "Alexandrine," "Allegory," "Alliteration," "Amphibrach," and "Anapest" to "Variorum Edition," "Verse," "Verse Paragraph," "Victorian," "Volume," "Watermarks," "Witness," and "Zeugma."

Oxymoronica, "celebrating oxymoronic, paradoxical, and self-contradictory quotations," offers Dr. Mardy's Quotes of the Week subscription service. Recipients get a free weekly newsletter delivered via e-mail every Sunday morning. Each issue includes a Weekly Puzzler, a number of fabulous quotes tied into the events of that particular day, and an original chiastic and oxymoronic observation from Dr. Mardy."

Anagramsite.com offers instantaneous anagramatizations ("anagram: a word or phrase formed by re-ordering the letters of another word or phrase"). My name (rosalie stafford) can be shuffled into at least 500 gnomic mind-bogglers, including foretold fair ass, aid fortress loaf, flirted afar so so, aloof as drifters, flirted oaf or ass, and my favorite: fat florida roses .

New Words in English, a Rice University linguistics class project, offers a few marvellous neologisms such as "auto dentist" (auto-body worker who repairs dents), "deflicted" (afflicted and deformed), and "shopgrifting" (to use something for 30 days, then return it to store for full refund).

The Web-to-English Dictionary proffers a few amusing neologisms including "Hotpotato n. the English pronunciation of "http://"

This glossary of blog terminology includes "obscure neologisms [such as barking moonbat, fisking, and meme] encountered in the blogosphere."

Teen Lingo: Are you hip to what's happening?  Can you translate dime, chicken-head, federal, swoles?  (Answers: top-notch, slut, felony, muscles.)

Logophilia: Home of the Word Spy, "devoted to recently coined words, existing words that have enjoyed a recent renaissance, and older words that are being used in new ways." Want to read up on "retrophilia" or "decimal dust" or "cereologist"?

Weasel Words out of the land Down Under.  Go there: you won't be sorry.

Weasel Words out of the land Down Under.  Go there: you won't be sorry.

The Origins and Common Usage of British Swear-Words:  "This entry discusses the etymology and application of a selection of words that, to varying degrees, can be considered vulgar or offensive. As a necessity, this entails the use of said words, and it is strongly advised that, should you find such words distressing or inappropriate, you do not read on beyond this point."

Bibliography of Planned Languages (excluding Esperanto) "also known as artificial languages, constructed languages (conlangs), invented languages, imaginary languages, fictional languages, etc., including universal languages, auxiliary languages, interlanguages or interlinguas, international languages; and also including logical languages, number languages, symbolic languages, etc." contains extensive archives -- everything you ever wanted to know about *** but were afraid to ask.

The Art of Language Making features "Conlangs," "Neologisms," "Babel Texts," "Books," "Neographies," and more.

Danoven, language of logic, is a constructed language; hear how it sounds. It's made by the compiler of The Conlang Yellow Pages, "a quick-reference list of all constructed languages on the Internet."

Researchers study birth of new language in Bedouin village, reports Nicholas Wade: "Linguists studying a signing system that spontaneously developed in an isolated Bedouin village say they have captured a new language being generated from scratch. They believe its features may reflect the innate neural circuitry that governs the brain's faculty for language ... [which] 'suggests that the human mind has the motive and means to create an expressive grammatical language without requiring many generations of fine tuning, trial and error and accumulation of cultural traditions.'"

"Ban on computer term master/slave gets political correctness attention."   Reuters reports, 4 December 2004: "The computer term "master/slave," which was banned as racially offensive by a Los Angeles County purchasing department, has been named this year's greatest victim of political correctness..."

The Indo-European Family and Non-Indo-European Families are depicted on maps delineating the usage of Germanic, Italic, Celtic, Hellenic, Armenian, Albanian, Baltic, Slavic, Iranian, and Indic, as well as New World and Old World tongues from Eskimo-Aleut to Tai-Kadai.

Sounds of the World's Animals "explore[s] the sounds of the world's languages through the sounds of the world's animals, from "bee" to "zebra" and "Afrikaans" to "Vietnamese."

The Power of Sound by Joanna Janecka (Ph.D. candidate and expert in "translation theory and contrastic phonology") discusses the importance of sound in utterance and its implications for translation. For instance: can you recite "the itsy bitsy spider" or even "the cat sat on the mat" in French? Loses something in the translation, doesn't it?

BabelFish is Altavista's handy translator. Considering the dauntingly rich slipperiness of language, lfish works pretty well. Try translating a nursey rhyme -- such as la luna, la luna, comiendo la tuna, y dando las cascaras en la laguna. (Roughly englished by a human: "The moon, the moon, eats cactus fruit, and throws the husks in the lake.")

A.Word.A.Day is "a community of more than 600,000 linguaphiles in at least 200 countries," which offers a free word of the day subscription.

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day will, likewise, be e-mailed to you free merely by subscribing, as will

the excellent Your Dictionary.com and

Dictionary.com Word of the Day and

Wordsmith Word-a-Day.   Do it – it's funtabulous.


Visit Amazon.com for books about language and writing.

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