Emirates has released an iPhone app that helps you 'speak' another language.
The English language will celebrate its one millionth word next month (at approximately 10.22am on June 10). That's according to the Global Language Monitor, an association of academics that tracks the use of new words.
It acknowledges new words once they have been used 25,000 times by media outlets, on social networking websites and in other sources.
New words which could be included are "defriend", "noob" and "chiconomics". Link
This poem by Demetri Martin is one very large palindrome. It's reads the same forwards or backwards.
"Dammit I’m Mad"
Dammit I’m mad.
Evil is a deed as I live.
God, am I reviled? I rise, my bed on a sun, I melt.
To be not one man emanating is sad. I piss.
Alas, it is so late. Who stops to help?
Man, it is hot. I’m in it. I tell.
I am not a devil. I level “Mad Dog”.
Ah, say burning is, as a deified gulp,
In my halo of a mired rum tin.
I erase many men. Oh, to be man, a sin.
Is evil in a clam? In a trap?
No. It is open. On it I was stuck.
Rats peed on hope. Elsewhere dips a web.
Be still if I fill its ebb.
Ew, a spider… eh?
We sleep. Oh no!
Deep, stark cuts saw it in one position.
Part animal, can I live? Sin is a name.
Both, one… my names are in it.
Murder? I’m a fool.
A hymn I plug, deified as a sign in ruby ash,
A Goddam level I lived at.
On mail let it in. I’m it.
Oh, sit in ample hot spots. Oh wet!
A loss it is alas (sip). I’d assign it a name.
Name not one bottle minus an ode by me:
“Sir, I deliver. I’m a dog”
Evil is a deed as I live.
Dammit I’m mad.
The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings, of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World and Europe.
The 'True Names' of 1500 cities, countries, rivers, oceans and mountain ranges are displayed on these two fascinating maps - Europe and the Wolrd
Using the map above, I'm located just down the road from the Dark Water Fort in the Land of Strangers, a principality in the Great Land of the Tattooed. That sounds so much better than Newport, Wales, UK.
The 'True Names' site has information on how to purchase the maps and also have large images of the Great Land of the Tattooed (Britain) and the United States of the Home Ruler (US). Spiegel also has images from other regions of the world. [via]
A collection of the Oddest Book Titles of the Year from 1978 to 2007 including "Lesbian Sadomasochism Safety Manual", "How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art" and"The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories".
Apparently "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence. Mental Floss explains.
"Every 14 days a language dies. By 2100, more than half of the more than 7,000 languages spoken on Earth—many of them never yet recorded—will likely disappear, taking with them a wealth of knowledge about history, culture, the natural environment, and how the human brain works."
National Geographic has an interesting interactive map highlighting areas of the world where languages are disappearing and has plenty of interesting facts. Did you know that Nigeria has 500 different languages - 5% of the world's languages.
See also: Languages Die, but Not Their Last Words
Mango is an excellent free website that helps you learn different languages. It offers 11 free foreign language courses in Spanish, Russian, Greek, German, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, French, Italian and Polish.
After signing up with your email address simply choose any of the available courses and start learning. The courses are presented in a slideshow format and there are about 100 lessons per course. [via]
Want to learn Welsh? For the rest of this week icWales in conjunction with Linkwordlanguages is offering people to learn an extensive vocabulary and basic grammar in 10-12 hours. The free offer covers the first five sections of Linkword Level 1, with the downloads available in either the software or the MP3 audio version. You can download the first part here if you want the other parts you will need to revisit the link each day this week.
Update: Thanks to Dave for pointing out that with a little tweaking of the URL you can download all of the MP3 files at once rather than waiting until Friday.
"The Pirahã people have no history, no descriptive words and no subordinate clauses. That makes their language one of the strangest in the world -- and also one of the most hotly debated by linguists."
Spiegel has a fascinating article about this strange tribe.
New York City has banned the use of the word nigger. Although there is no penalty for using the word, council officials hope that it will encourage people to stop using the word.
The word word originates from the Latin "niger," meaning black, to its first documented written use in 1786 as a term slave masters used to label their African slaves.
With the 2008 Summer Olympics just over a year away, Beijing is aiming to change its embarrassing but amusing 'Chinglish' signs so that they make more sense. For the next eight months, 10 teams of linguistic monitors will patrol the city's parks, museums, subway stations and other public places searching for signs to fix. Read more.
One podcast that I discovered whilst using the application was Grammar Girl. It's a weekly podcast all about punctuation in the English language. The podcasts are short (around 2-5mins) and cover a different topic each week. If you are interested in learning more about the English language or want to improve your grammar, go and check it out.
A secondary school in South London has pupils that speak in a mind-boggling 71 different languages.
The school — believed to be the most cosmopolitan in Europe — has only three translators. It has 1,300 UK and foreign pupils aged 11-18 — and 550 of these arrived in Britain speaking no English.
Among the languages spoken are Arabic, Kurdish, Farsi (from Afghanistan) Kazak (Kazakhstan), Croatian, Zulu (South Africa), Swahili (Kenya) and Krio (Sierra Leone).
A slab inscribed with the oldest writing yet discovered in the New World has been discovered in the Veracruz lowlands in Mexico.
The writing dates back nearly 3000 years to the height of the Olmec culture that was the first Mesoamerican civilisation, Mexican archaeologists report.
The slab weighs about 12 kilograms and is about the length and width of a laptop computer, but much deeper (36 centimetres by 21 cm by 12 cm). It is blank except for one side, which has been ground smooth and inscribed with 62 symbols of a hieroglyphic script. The symbols are arranged in rows and some are repeated, similar to other written languages.
Three of the 28 distinct symbols appear four times, six appear three times, and 12 appear twice. Some symbols resemble objects including an insect, an ear of corn and a throne.