Browsing Month September, 2007

Foreign accent syndrome: not really a foreign accent

Dennis Baron explains that in cases of “foreign accent syndrome,” in which someone receives a head injury and then begins speaking differently, they’re not really taking on a specific, pre-existing accent of a different language or social group. Foreign accent syndrome only affects the sound of someone’s speech, not their syntax or vocabulary. What’s really more…

As far from coffee as you can get and still drink something brown

Francis exposes this horror to the world: a bottled espresso-like drink that uses the slogan “Icespress yourself” on top of a Fox-TV-style waving American flag, and crosses off “French” in “French Vanilla” with a big red line and replaces it with a bright red “American” in a cheesy font. All it wants now is a more…

Naming trends: out of 20 boys, there are five Joshes and four Sams

What’s in a name? “Out of the 20 boys in Year 4, nearly half are called either Josh or Sam.”

“Why does it start with A B C and not F D Q?”

Elizabeth Hand reviews David Plante’s book ABC for the Washington Post. She describes it as an eccentric contemporary folk tale about a grief-bound pack of new acquaintances compulsively in search of the origins of the alphabet. “What is an alphabet, really, but a means of expressing what is inexpressible: the sum of all human history more…

Climbing frame vs. monkey bars vs. jungle gym

Lynne at Separated by a Common Language has given monkey bars, jungle gym, and climbing frame and other playground attractions the American vs. British treatment in response to an email I sent her in March. Busy lady, hanging around with television stars and all. I’m surprised it didn’t take longer. 🙂

Skunks, bears, and chipmunks: prey caught by camera trap

Chris Wemmer is a Californian, biologist, and retired Smithsonian scientist who keeps an engrossing blog, Camera Trap Codger, about the animals he photographs. His camera traps are set in the woods near water sources and other high-traffic animal zones, where the animals trigger the traps with their activity. Besides interesting photographs, Chris has a pleasant, more…

The 55 dirty words you can’t say on broadcast television

Brian Lowry at Variety writes about the 55 dirty words you can’t say on broadcast television, according to the Parents Television Council.

Kick the can

Rob Kyff at the Hartford Courant explores the phrase “kick the can,” which seems to be a largely political expression meaning “to put off a decision.”

Ich Bin Ein New Yorker

Anna Steegmann, now an English-language novelist living legally in New York City, writes about what it was like to be an illegal German immigrant, struggling with the language and life in the city.

Hoax, satire, or a mistake?

At Defective Yeti, Matthew Baldwin jabs a few people in the eye for misusing the word hoax.