January 22nd, 2011


Thumb rings?

I came across this New York Herald article from 1907 about Baba Bharati, and it this one sentence kind of threw me for a loop:

"Baba Bharati is not to be confounded with the type of picturesque Hindu charlatans who, with appropriate scenary and costumes, have come to America from time to time to wheedle the dollars from silly women and men who wear thumb rings."

Why are these people who get taken in by these "charlatans" for their money wearing thumb rings? At the turn of the last century America, or at least New York, was wearing a thumb ring something that only easily deceived people would wear? That doesn't make sense to me, but that is the impression I get from this sentence.

Anyone know why these people are described like this? It is kind of driving me crazy >_<

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help! :) 
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I just wonder if there're some major language features that unambiguously distinguish Canadians from Americans (meaning USA natives) or Englishmen? Are Canadians closer to Americans in their speaking? Can you give me a small list of typical Canadian words or phrases, which aren't used outside Canada, but are used in Canada constantly? Thanx in advance.

PS: many interesting comments, still not what I originally asked for. I am interested in some special wordies that just sound Canadian :)

Well, when it comes to discern the difference between British and American (now including Canadians, too) speakers, some details are obviously and clearly seen or heard like lift/elevator or that rhotic thing.

Updated post: Modern terms for modern relationships

I posted the following query a while ago.
Thanks to everybody who participated, you are terrific! I'm sorry for not answering right back.
Since most answers are screened, I'll give an impresonalized summary here under the cut (see below), Maybe later I'll contact some of the commenters via presonal messages.

Further comments are welcome.

"For a project of mine I'd like to ask everybody to put here new (or reused old terms) that are used instead of more traditional as "husband". "wife", "girlfriend". "boyfriend"...

All terms referring to any couples and romance, regardless of sexual orientation and social norms are welcome. Any language will do (but please explain the meaning of the term and tell me by whom it is used)".

AND HERE ARE MY FINDINGS. I personally love the idea of "it's complicated" as a noun :^)))

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pixelated moi
  • tisoi

I know, right?

Since moving to the city for school a little over a year ago I've been hearing this phrase that I did not really notice when I lived in the boondocks - "I know, right?"

What I've noticed:

- (usually) level intonation on "I know" with rising "intonation on "right" (for those who haven't heard it). Though sometimes I've heard it with just level intonation, kind of like an exclamation.
- often shortened to "right?" The diphthong is elongated as well.
- acronym IKR is used online and in text messaging

I associate this with teens and people in their 20s. Though I'm 30 and this has crept into my speech (since my classmates use it all the time). My friend from back in the boondocks recently told me that there's this "new saying" that annoys her, and I laughed when she told me it was this one.

While it seems fairly recent to me, Urban Dictionary does have an entry for it in 2003. But I do not recall hearing it then. Another Urban Dictionary entry (there are two!) suggests it originated in Northern California and another states that it's gaining popularity in Atlanta.

I'm interested in more metalinguistic commentary about this, particularly from those of you in the community. Basically, whether or not it's used where you live, the primary ages/gender/ethnicity/social class/whatever of people who use it, and how long you've noticed it. I'm interested in knowing if people in other English-speaking countries used it. I've noticed it used online by people living in the Philippines, for example.

What kinda motivated me is the Green Lantern Trailer. Where the Green Lantered (played by Ryan Reynolds) says it after he changed into costume. The video is in the cut and the relevant part starts at 2:07.

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  • iohanne

Emphatic Consonants in Arabic

I'm taking a break from Hebrew since I kind of suck at it but I don't want to wander too far off so I've been trying to prepare myself to scale the mountain that is Arabic. I'm learning the alphabet and doing quite well at being able to read. My handwriting is a little shaky but I don't plan to really be writing that much. I'm also capable of making most of the sounds in isolation and within words. However, I'm having a little difficulty with my emphatic consonants. I've read the phonetic descriptions of the sounds as pharyngealisation and there are several learn-Arabic sites that reproduce the sounds in isolation. I can make them in isolation perfectly fine but when I pronounce them in a word I hear that the pharyngealisation spreads into the surrounding segments. For example, there is a pharyngealised [t] in the word marbuuTa (as in taa' marbuuTa). The fatHah after the pharyngealised [t] is also pharyngealised when I pronounce it and almost unavoidably so. The pharyngealisation also spreads to the preceeding waw though I can, when very careful, avoid that. When I'm really lazy, the pharyngealisation even spreads regressively all the way to the baa'!

Is pharyngealisation spreading to neighbouring segments common among native-speaking Arabs or is this the influence of my English phonology? If the latter, what the frick am I going to do to improve this? Just start speaking really slow and then picking up speed later? LOL

Thanks in advance!
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