Languages Articles

On Count Nouns and Mass Nouns

September 29, 2017 12:00 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

We English speakers are sometimes surprised to discover that we split our perspective on how we view things in the universe. As it turns out, we make a clear distinction between count nouns and mass nouns. Count nouns are – not surprisingly – nouns you can count: one book, two... read more

Folk Dress and Folk Etymology

June 27, 2017 9:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Title Image: Traditional Romanian dress. The focus of this blog is the linguistic phenomenon known as folk etymology. Last week, a well-known pharmacy in Romania launched a campaign that drew my attention. Farmacia Catena advertised that from June 22 to June 24, if you come into one of their stores... read more

Two Observations on the Japanese Language

June 13, 2017 9:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

日 ‘sun’ + 本 ‘origin/tree’ = Japan         日本語= Japanese Language I’m in Japan now. Sure, I can say ohayō gozaimasu ‘good morning’, arigatō gozaimasu ‘thank you very much’ and order basic food items, e.g. I have shōchū  rokku ‘(Japanese) vodka on the rocks,’ down. Beyond that, I... read more

Geneva: Thoughts on Relative Fame

January 20, 2017 10:22 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

I’m in Geneva to give a talk at a linguistics conference with an Atelier Saussure-Chomsky (atelier = workshop). A good reason such a conference is held in Geneva is because the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) lived and taught here. The American linguist Noam Chomsky is, presumably, included because... read more

English Settings II: British Slang

December 23, 2016 9:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

British Slang is a sequel to English Settings I: Britishisms. I’ll start where I started before: So you’re an American novelist and you’ve chosen to set your story in England. That’s great. But now here’s your problem: English. In my earlier blog I said that British slang was a category... read more

English Settings I: Britishisms

December 20, 2016 5:05 pm Published by 2 Comments

So you’re an American novelist and you’ve decided to set your story in England. That’s great. But now here’s your problem: English. You need to get a handle on Britishisms. If your story is set in France it’s perfectly legit for your characters not to speak French if they happen... read more

Writing Across Languages – Try It!

October 13, 2016 9:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Writing across languages is scary. Ruxie, one of my dear friends in Romania, shares two of my passions: linguistics and romance novels. About a month ago we went out to dinner, and she admitted she had written a Regency romance. Note: a Regency is a novel set in early 19th-century... read more