A Proportional Visualization of the World’s Most Popular Languages

≡ Category: Language Lessons |18 Comments

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Last week we highlighted for you a beautiful Tree of Languages infographic, created by Minna Sundberg using data from ethnologue.com. This week, we present another visualization of world languages, this one produced by Alberto Lucas Lopéz, on behalf of the South China Morning Post.

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The Tree of Languages Illustrated in a Big, Beautiful Infographic

≡ Category: Art, Language Lessons |20 Comments

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Call it counterintuitive clickbait if you must, but Forbes’ Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry made an intriguing argument when he granted the title of “Language of the Future” to French, of all tongues.

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Hip Hop Hits Sung Wonderfully in Sign Language: Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” & More

≡ Category: Language Lessons, Music |1 Comment

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The first time I went to see David Sedaris read some of his hilarious essays live, I ended up laughing much more than I expected. By luck of seating, I found myself at the right of the stage, facing his sign language interpreter. She didn’t just quickly parse what he said.

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Klingon for English Speakers: Sign Up for a Free Course Coming Soon

≡ Category: Language Lessons, Random |1 Comment

Duolingo provides free educational resources that will help you learn a whole host of terrestrial languages — languages like Spanish, French, German, and Italian. But now they’re expanding into extraterrestrial languages too, like Klingon.

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The Linguistics Behind Kevin Spacey’s Southern Accent in House of Cards: A Quick Primer

≡ Category: Language Lessons |Leave a Comment

Let’s take Kevin Spacey’s southern accent on the Netflix series House of Cards, and use it as a springboard for exploring the linguistics of that often times charming regional accent, shall we? In the video above, created by Vox, we learn all about “ay-unglidding.

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Cab Calloway’s “Hepster Dictionary,” A 1939 Glossary of the Lingo (the “Jive”) of the Harlem Renaissance

≡ Category: History, Language Lessons, Life, Music |4 Comments

The lists are in. By overwhelming consensus, the buzzword of 2014 was “vape.” Apparently, that’s the verb that enables you to smoke an e-cig. Left to its own devices, my computer will still autocorrect 2014’s biggest word to “cape,” but that could change.
Hopefully not.

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The Making of the Famous Jive Talk Scenes from Airplane!

≡ Category: Comedy, Film, Language Lessons |3 Comments

Like films by the Marx brothers, Airplane! creates a feeling of giddy, exuberant anarchy by hurling a non-stop barrage of jokes at you. It is the sort of movie that viewers risk hyperventilating from laughing so much. Yet among the all gags and one-liners — “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

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Watch Classic Seinfeld Scenes Dubbed in …. Yiddish

≡ Category: Language Lessons, Television |Leave a Comment

You may never have heard much Yiddish, but we can’t call it a dead language. The tongue of the Ashkenazi Jews, one referred to in the 19th and part of the 20th century as simply “Jewish,” certainly did, however, have a near-death experience.

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Let’s Learn Japanese: Two Classic Video Series to Get You Started in the Language

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Say the name “Yan-san” to anyone who’s studied Japanese in the last thirty years, and you’ll probably get a reaction of delighted recognition. It means that, inside or outside the classroom, they studied with Let’s Learn Japanese, a series of educational videos produced by the Japan Foundation.

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“Tsundoku,” the Japanese Word for the New Books That Pile Up on Our Shelves, Should Enter the English Language

≡ Category: History, Language Lessons, Writing |13 Comments

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There are some words out there that are brilliantly evocative and at the same time impossible to fully translate. Yiddish has the word shlimazl, which basically means a perpetually unlucky person. German has the word Backpfeifengesicht, which roughly means a face that is badly in need of a fist.

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