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Elle [userpic]

Hi, I've been following this community for a while now, but this is the first time I've needed y'all's help.
I'm a writer with a fairly international cast, and many of my characters are non-native speakers of English. What I'd like to know is what grammatical mistakes would a native Welsh, Spanish, Scottish Gaelic, and/or Arabic speaker make when speaking English, and would a native Arabic speaker have difficulty with non-phonetic English spellings? From what I know of Arabic, the alphabet seem fairly phonetic. Is this the case?

Thank you so much! :-)

Current Location: home
Current Mood: curiouscurious
Current Music: Everything You Ever from Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog
Trees, oh jeez. [userpic]

Today I found a paper posted to a bus stop that used "paster" rather than "pastor." It was definitely religious (and used as a person's title). At first I assumed it was just an embarrassing misspelling, but then I remembered making a similar assumption with imposter/impostor, and now I'm all curious. Is it acceptable in some situation or variety of English to spell it "paster"? I searched Google but it wasn't particularly useful beyond dictionaries listing no alternative spellings for the word... which just might be my answer, but I thought I'd ask this community to make sure.

EDIT: Embarrassing (and amusing) misspelling it is. Thanks to everyone who commented!

runa27 [userpic]

So, I'm going to be teaching myself Romanian in the future, because a.) it's a beautiful and intriguing language with a rich and interesting history and b.) I have a story set in Romania using (naturally) some Romanian characters and it's nowhere near close enough to the Spanish I've studied previously for me to "get by" in some of my resources without knowing more of it (heck, even if it were Spanish characters in Spain or South Americans in South America, my Spanish is rusty enough I'd have to brush up again, so you can imagine how useless it is when it comes to deciphering something so different as Romanian). 

All this is well and good for The Future, but I (to my surprise and joy) actually have somebody in my genre within the publishing industry (someone who works with an editor at a company that would work well for it, specifically) who is interested in this story right now and wants to know more.  Unfortunately, this means that some of the character names need to be worked out, um, now-ish, so I can get the material together for a proper proposal as soon as possible. I have focused more on character development than character surnames and such up to this point, but I want the surnames to at least work well (as proper bilingual puns if nothing else) so any help is appreciated.  

Names behind cut so that I don't clog up the main page too muchCollapse )

Any help with these is much appreciated. :)

And while we're at it - I think it's obvious I'm a beginner in the language, yeah? I keep seeing potential resources for learning the language, but every time I think I've found a good one, I learn from somewhere else that "oh no, that's no good, they use the old spelling system", or things like that. I'm too new to tell what are good resources or bad ones; so if you have any advice on where I should be looking (preferably free online resources, but even books or tape sets would be okay!), for a fairly reliable resource in the language, please let me know. :) 

Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
aandrusiak [userpic]

Why is 'cannot' written as a single word unlike all other (shall not, may not, do not, must not)?

snowstranger [userpic]

For all the non-native speakers out there: a spelling challenge!
You can choose between British and American English (BE seems to be harder) and three different levels of difficulty.

I personally find Fiendish with BE impossible to master. What about you?

thaichicken [userpic]

Hi there, dear linguaphiles,

Are any of you familiar with the CocoAspell spell-checking system? I have to use it for a new job, and I can't make it work. Google has failed me too. Boo.

I'm running OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and I downloaded the latest version of CocoAspell. I followed the installation instructions to a T, and I had no trouble installing the extra dictionary I needed. That said, when I tried to use it, it didn't recognize any misspellings, and when I forced it open with ⌘-shift-: I'm pretty sure it just gave me the normal spell-check window.

I can't find where it's installed on my hard drive either, and I forgot to look when I ran the installation. I thought if I opened the installer again it would help, but it let me see everything but the destination. It skipped that part. Then I thought I'd uninstall it and reinstall it to see if that would help, but I can't figure out how to uninstall it.

If anyone can help or has suggestions where else to post this, I'd be so grateful!

EDIT: With much more Google searching, I found that one must double click the icon in System Preferences after installing dictionaries. Weird.

Current Mood: frustratedfrustrated
vic_vega66 [userpic]

How on earth do you spell: tolematary (as in tolematary tracker, astronomy related) is it ptolematary, with a P? tolematery, tolemetarey? Yes, my brain is fried and I can't spell today, I've Googled and Googled to hell and back and as I'm not sure of the spelling it's hard Any help appreciated.

Current Location: planet bibliophile
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: radio 1
FNU NMN LNU [userpic]

It turns out that out of four possible English spellings for ЦАРЬ - tsar, tzar, csar, czar, the latter is the perennial favorite:

Where does that fake Polish-looking spelling come from?

Xavier [userpic]

A few days ago I posted what looked like a bunch of changes in spelling rules for Spanish.

One of the most discussed changes was the name of the letter Y. Currently called "I griega", it was said that it was due to be changed to "ye".  Well, a member of the RAE has just said that they might back down and keep the name of the letter unchanged.

In the end, this looks like these reform announces were released to see how the public reacted.

The definitive decision will be taken in an upcoming meeting of the Academias de la Lengua Española in Guadalajara, Jalisco (México).

Here's an article (from an extremely conservative newspaper in Spain, with all the implications) that explains the back-down in the "Y" change.

Anyway, we'll keep an eye on this.

Xavier [userpic]

The RAE (Real Academia de la Lengua Española) is releasing a minor change in Spanish spelling rules (Reglas ortográficas). It is a very minor change

New names for B, V and Y
B is called "Be" in all countries (no longer should be called"be larga" in America)
V is called "Uve" (no longer "be corta")
W is called "Uve doble" (no longer "u doble" or "be doble")
Y is called "Ye" (no longer "Y griega")

New spelling for foreign countries
Iraq becomes Irak
Qatar becomes Catar

Less use of diacritic tildes
Old rule: "sólo" = only, "solo" = alone. Now, the tilde is unnecessary for both meanings
Old rule: "truhán", "búho", "guión". Since they can be pronounced as diphthongs, the tilde is considered unnecessary

The "o" (or) between numbers used to have a tilde which is no longer required. Old spelling: "Vinieron 5 ó 6 personas"; new spelling "Vinieron 5 o 6 personas"

A recent change also removed the tilde from the demonstratives "este/ese/aquel" (and the flexed variants in feminine and plurals) when they worked as pronouns (I. e. "Quiero este helado, éste que señalo", now becomes "Quiero este helado, este de aquí")

Discard hyphens in compounds using "ex", "anti" and "pro"
Old rule: Ex-presidente, anti-social, pro-vida
New rule: Expresidente, antisocial, provida.

(Since I studied with the former rules, I'm having a hard time to remove my tilde habits. I also witnessed the demote of CH and LL from letters to simple digraphs)


Edit: Thanks to oconel  for the two missing rules I forgot

Jonnie (David Sellinger) [userpic]

Okay, I'm beginning to learn (i.e. teach myself) Russian. Some of these questions have resolved themselves, but now there's one thing I can't seem to get my head around:

I know that when a stem that ends in a vowel (like жда-) gets an ending that begins with a vowel, the vowel on the stem is removed. I can see this happening in a lot of verbs, but sometimes (usually when there's a '-ю' ending), I'll still see that stem vowel (like in работать, понимать, and Знать). Are these verbs just irregular/exceptions to the rule, or is there something I'm missing? Or are the other verbs I'm looking at irregular (ждать is the only one I can find right now).

ETA: Oops, I think I made a mistake, I was thinking completely backwards. I think the verbs I were assuming were regular weren't...I feel silly now.

Anyway, another question: the soft sign at the end of words—this something to be memorised with the word, right? I was studying the numbers and saw how so many had a soft sign after the the 'т', and then some higher numbers didn't—I started thinking there might be a pattern, but that's just wishful thinking, right?

Current Mood: confusedconfused
Don't want to be hated any more. [userpic]

In DC, even the Spelling Bee draws protesters
Our alphabet has 425-plus ways of putting words together in illogical ways," Mahoney said. The protesting cohort distributed pins to willing passers-by with their logo, "Enuf is enuf. Enough is too much." According to literature distributed by the group, it makes more sense for "fruit" to be spelled as "froot," "slow" should be "slo," and "heifer" should be "hefer."

Lawng liv thaa Revawlooshun!

The two groups involved in the protest are The American Literacy Council and The Spelling Society.

The ALC has a page of suggested new spellings.

The SS (spelling nazis!) has leaflets you can hand out during your own protests at your local school. They also have a "kids corner" (shouldn't that be "cids corner"?) with a list of suggested spelling reform activism including emailing Bill Gates since he controls all the world's spell checkers.
Food for thought!

panzeleche [userpic]

I'm trying to find out more about the etymology of the word colo(u)r, particularly its spelling.

I recall reading a source that said that the spelling "colour" first arose in the 15th century while "color" first arose in the 17th century. I found this interesting because it means that "color" was around before Noah Webster published his dictionary and so wasn't something he fabricated. I'm aware that "color" was pretty rare compared against "colour" (not sure how it measures up to some of the weird spellings I found on that page).  

However, I'm having difficulty finding this source again. Does anybody have any source for when the "colour" and "color" spellings first appeared?

If anyone wants to know the reason as to why I need these etymologies, I'm in an argument and I'm trying to prove that Noah Webster did not single-handedly create American English and that American English isn't some sort of horrible perversion of the *natural* and *original* English language (as spoken in England, of course!).

Current Mood: amusedamused
Технік-радіольщик Мокроголовенко [userpic]

In movies, when surprised or perplexed with a hint at being in trouble, a character, especially a young one (often a kid), would utter an interjection that might be transcribed as [ɒ'əʊ] with the tone falling down towards the second syllable (hope I made myself clear enough).

How can it be spelt?

Monument [userpic]

I posted several months ago about an experiment I was running with a wiki to build a lexicon to transliterate documents into the Shavian alphabet. It was down for a week or so earlier; this is just to say that it's back up at a new address, . I think I've fixed most of the font-embedding problems that people originally noticed. The entire lexicon so far, about 15,000 lexemes, augmented with data from CMUDict, and with a POS-based homonym disambiguator, can be downloaded there as well.

There is also a gentle introduction to the alphabet, a transliterator based on the lexicon, an unhelpfully difficult game of Shavian hangman, and a transliteration of the XKCD comic (xkcd_shavian ).

lovelylinguist [userpic]

I'm sorry if you've seen this before, but I just found it and thought it was interesting.

Current Mood: amusedamused
Kayt Kakalina [userpic]

Hello all, I've got some questions about writing English names in Japanese.

I have found some "what's your name in Japanese?" websites, but I'm hesitant to trust them. I'm trying to write Sara, Kate, Lacreasha, and Brielle in katakana (which I cannot write on the computer, I apologize), and while I think I know how, I'm still not sure.

Sara: is it basically the same ("sa-ra") or because the pronunciation is different, would it be different (maybe "se-ra"?).
Kate: "ke-i-to" or "kee-to"? Or does it not matter?
Brielle: "bu-ri-e-ru"? I'm fairly confident that this is correct.
Lacreasha: this one is giving me the most trouble. "Ra-ku-ri-sha"? It's not a common name, so I'm afraid I'm just pulling things out of the air here.

Технік-радіольщик Мокроголовенко [userpic]

When "no"-particle is spelt with katakana (ノ), what does this mean?

I find Spanish orthography quite outdated, so I created a new one for modern Spanish.
How was it?

For example, diego can be written on it's two different pronunciation like diego- giego.
while terms like caballo can be written as cabagio if pronounced dZ.

fixed added v and separator for /u/ to be pronounced

Current Mood: accomplished
Res facta quae tamen fingi potuit [userpic]

Following question arose from a conversation with a friend: to the best of your knowledge, do spellings "hello" and "hullo" map to different pronunciations, different meanings, different sociolinguistic contexts/connotations, or different spellings (eg, geographical variants)?

If different meanings or sociolinguistic contexts/connotations, which? If different spelling variants, which origin or location?

For reference, I'm also interested in which English dialect(s) you normally use and which you're familiar with.

Whatsoever Girl [userpic]

I've just been told that the word "hello" can be spelled with E only.
For some reason I always spell it as hAllo. And I'm just interested - are there any native speakers of the English language who spell it with A?

Thank you.

Alexis [userpic]

I'm reading this week's New Yorker and the Talk of the Town refers to "the hundred-metre dash". It then repeats the spelling, so it's not a misprint.

I'm American originally and I don't remember ever seeing the spelling "metre" (instead of meter) used there (although it's the normal British spelling). Is the New Yorker being oddly affected with this usage?

(Ah, it's on the website, so you can see it:

Технік-радіольщик Мокроголовенко [userpic]

Although Arabic and Persian use the same writing system, there is something elusive which makes texts in these languages appear visually different, and I can easily tell one from another.

What's the reason for it?

Note: I cannot read Arabic script at all).

Whodunnit? [userpic]

I'm not sure what I think on the topic, but the against guy uses some rather strange and specious arguments, he seems to be going "I win because I know lots of facts about THINGS, so there!".

EDIT- Despite people asking, no I won't delete their heated thread on this. If you lose an argument you lose it fair and square in my books.

Технік-радіольщик Мокроголовенко [userpic]

A little help with Modern Greek wanted :)

Read more...Collapse )

Технік-радіольщик Мокроголовенко [userpic]

How did the "wr"-digraph evolve? Where did it come from? Was there a period when "w" wasn't mute? When did it cease to sound?


Whodunnit? [userpic]

I basically want something that helps adult french speakers with poor literacy with their spelling. I learnt French as a kid, I grew up in the part of the UK that borders France and we spent a lot of time going round France in a caravan. I was also lucky enough to have teachers from Belgium and Mauritius at junior school who insisted on a high level of French. When I went to senior school at the age of 11 however, about half the year had already done French and half were complete beginners. So that no-one would have an "unfair advantage" (what utter crap) they made EVERYBODY start from the beginning again. I very quickly lost interest and focused on other languages, and gave up French classes at the age of 13, and just read french books myself at home instead. As I stand now, I have no trouble understanding at all, and have no trouble speaking (except for sounding like a rather prim little girl, but that's a completely different issue), and I'm fine with the grammar but my spelling is absolutely atrocious. I pretty much write like an illiterate french person, ie I know the words and constructions and the grammar but all the silent bits either get left out or added where they don't belong as do hs and dipthongs, and words get mangled in other ways, and all in all, it's pretty embarassing. Anyone got any suggestions of helpful books?

Current Music: Regina Spektor

Althought this is for a conlang, the question is directly applicable to natural languages, so I figured I'd ask here.

Are there any instances of a language using two scripts or alphabets? I know that sometimes there can be reforms in scripts where one version becomes archaic, or different versions of the same script (Traditional and Simplified Chinese, for example), but I'm talking about two unrelated scripts or alphabets being used interchangeably to write the same language.

当て字 [userpic]

I was talking to a German girl online who told me that if you cannot put an umlaut on a vowel, for example in the word über, you add another vowel. In this case, she said, it would be ueber. Is this correct? I'm not a German speaker.

Other information about fun German spelling conventions completely welcome.


Current Mood: curiouscurious
Nelle [userpic]

I haven't seen this question before, but don't shoot me if it's been asked.

I'm a Brit writing an essay and have a quote I'd like to include from an American author. Usually this poses no problems, however there are two American English spellings in the quote. Is the norm to acknowledge the "misspelling" (after all, is is incorrect in British English) using "[sic]" or, as the word is practically the same, just ignore it? Or can one change the spelling to British English (I'm guessing not within a citation)? If any Americans (or anyone else who uses American English) has come across the same problem vice versa, ie. when quoting British authors, I'd be interested to find out how you deal with it.

By the way, the quote is: "those in the West who favor a liberalization of the ... law have been strengthened by political support from the East"

EDIT: Thank you for all the comments! It's going in unchanged...

The name in question is that of Hamparsum Limonciyan (a brief mention in English in the third entry on this page at NWCForum).

I'm working on an English-language article for Wikipedia, and I might be able to translate the original Turkish myself (without plagiarizing), but anyway, he was an Armenian composer and music theorist of roughly Beethoven's time. At the request of Ottoman Sultan Selim III, he created a notation system, also known as Hamparsum.

His first name is written Համբարձում in the Armenian alphabet. It is pronounced Hampartsum in Western Armenian and Hambardzum in Eastern, and the name means "Ascension" (i.e. of Christ). I haven't been able to find how the last name is spelled, however, and that's what I'm asking about.

And I probably will need help with some of the translating. I do use this online Turkish-English-German dictionary.

Current Mood: working
Cy [userpic]

Hi there. I was wondering if someone could help. I'm doing a presentation for my tourism class about Crete, and Chania/Hania. I was hoping someone could tell me...

A) What is the difference between the two spellings? Which one should I use?

B) How should I pronounce it?

Thanks a lot!

To the best of my knowledge, the correct adjective in English is BelaruSian, not BelaruSSian, but today's article in "New York Times" uses the latter spelling, with two S's. The problem was debated in SEELANGS (Slavic languages mailing list) several years ago, and American linguists who are also native English speakers concluded that BelaruSian is the correct spelling, but "New York Times" editors probably don't read that mailing list... (The NYT article in question)

ジェーシ モーテス [userpic]

do other languages besides english have spelling bees?

seems to me the competition wouldn't be as intense, especially in romances like spanish, where everything basically follows rules.


I haven't been to Germany or spoken Germany in about 10 years, and definitely haven't kept up with the news. So, a friend told me that they have created a law (how ridiculous!) to force printers to change all "β"s to "ss". Shocking!
So my questions are: how is this being taken by the German people? Is "β" still in use, maybe just by "traditional" people? (I know it would feel awfully strange to start writing double s's everywhere...
Also, are American schools using "β"-less books to teach from now?
One you use "β" or "ss"?

-A very behind-the-times Germarican

I'm currently studying Mandarin Chinese, and sometimes want to write about it on LJ. I sometimes want to write the words in pinyin with the tones. To write the second and forth tone is easy enough, I just use HTML to add the grave and acute accent, for example r & e grave ; (without the spaces) gives me rè which means hot. How do I write the other two tones? Sometimes I copy them from an online dictionary, but that is kind of annoying.

Технік-радіольщик Мокроголовенко [userpic]

Something I never knew before.

I typed "aluminium" in MS Word and the spellchecker underlined it with red and suggested "aluminum" (the spellchecker language was US English). Then I chose UK English and this spelling was accepted.

What's that?

Current Mood: confusedconfused
philena [userpic]

Can anyone explain why it is so common in English of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to capitalize what appear to be the important words of the phrase? It appears mainly to be nouns, but important adjectives are also capitalized from time to time--but not always. Is it maybe simply to stress certain words, in the way comic strips use bold and italics far more than common prose does? Could a similar desire be at work in modern signs that say such things as "Thank You and Have a Nice Day," which I always find grating? Certainly they had the ability to italicize in printing back then--that was around from the very beginning--and in handwriting one may always underline. Could the capitalization be a more mild form of emphasis, or was it stylistics?

. [userpic]

I think in Englïsh it could be ä good ideä (in theory) tö write evëry schwa sound /ə/ with ä diäcritïcäl mark öf söme sort tö rësemblë speech. This would probäbly help school childrën and non-natïve speakërs älike in lëärning Englïsh ä littlë bit bettër since öne nevër really knows which vowël is reduced tö schwa, büt it is sürprisingly diffïcült tö do! I know it's not technïcälly very possïblë cönsidëring how wide-spread Englïsh is, büt its fün tö think äbout anyway. Thoughts?

T [userpic]

Hello there. I hope somebody could explain me something. I was reading this article when I came this part:
Choosing spelling rules is fundamentally choosing the mapping between sounds and symbols on the written page. As a simplification in this process, certain sounds are considered identical, and mapped to a single formal representative; these are then referred to as homophones. Take, for instance, the casual pronunciation by an educated English speaker of the phrase 'hot water bottle'. All three sounds represented in spelling with a t here are actually different, only the one in 'water' being the sound normally associated with the letter. In fact, the influence of education and spelling is so great, that most speakers of a language are not even aware of homophones. (Homophones are also the source, for instance, of a English speaker's problems with the Dutch pronunciations of the letters w and v. Both sounds occur in English, but they are homophones for English v, and so to the English ear both sound like a v. This is also the reason that most Dutch people wrongly pronounce "pan" and "pen" identically.)

My question is: How come that the Dutch /v/ and /w/ sound like /v/ to the English ear? Because there is a real difference between them, so I don't see why it would be like that, or is it just a personal experience of the author here?
And also, how can I make the difference between "pan" and "pen", because I know they should sound different, but I can't get to pronounce them correctly (I can't even talk with an English accent, for that matter, I'm told I sound very American, perhaps that's the problem)?

PS: I apologise for not having sounded that positive about Swedish, but it really wasn't meant that way.

Current Mood: sicksick
Current Music: Met m'n ogen dicht || Doe Maar

Old German spellings now verboten
CBC News

Most German traditionalists are reluctantly switching over to new German spelling rules that came into effect this week, designed to modernize and simplify the language.

But some are vowing to defy the rules and stick to the old ways.

stolen from community: anthropologist

Технік-радіольщик Мокроголовенко [userpic]

As we know, in English there's a rule (however, I'm not sure whether it is a strict one) to capitalize the first letter of every word (except articles, particles, prepositions, and conjunctions) in the titles of books, songs, movies, etc.

I wonder if any other languages have this rule.

Where does the spelling "grrl" (or "grrrl") originated from? Is it just an alternative spelling or it has some inner sense?

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