Free People Search Infographic: Many Languages One America

I checked my inbox this morning, and I found a kind email by Heather Brown.
She asked me to repost this infographic. I found it very interesting, because it shows data resulting from a study carried out in the fields of language and linguistics in relation to the United States of America being a “Great Melting Pot”.

It is divided into sections concerning which languages and dialects are spoken, where such languages are spoken, which fields involve those languages , and the multilanguage attitude in the USA.

Have a look! 🙂


Many languages,one americaan infographic from


[Repost] Multilinguals Have Multiple Personalities (by Alice Robb)


Multilinguals Have Multiple Personalities

Ian essay published on Monday, New Republic Senior Editor Noam Scheiber—who grew up speaking both Hebrew and English—explains why he stopped speaking only Hebrew to his three-year-old daughter. “My Hebrew self turns out to be much colder, more earnest, and, let’s face it, less articulate,” he writes. “In English, my natural sensibility is patient and understated. My style in Hebrew was hectoring and prosecutorial.”

I understand the feeling. My not-so-fluent French “self” is most comfortable talking about classroom supplies. It’s surprising, though, that people who are actually fluent in two languages also feel their personality shifting as they switch between languages. Yet researchers have confirmed this: Between 2001 and 2003, linguists Jean-Marc Dewaele and Aneta Pavlenko asked over a thousand bilinguals whether they “feel like a different person” when they speak different langauges. Nearly two-thirds said they did.

How does that play out in day-to-day speech? In 1964, Susan Ervin, a sociolinguist at the University of California, Berkeley, set out to explore the differences in how bilinguals represent the same stories in different languages. She recruited 64 French adults who lived in the U.S. and were fluent in both French and English. On average, they had spent 12 years living in the U.S.; 40 were married to an American. On two separate occasions, six weeks apart, Ervin gave them the “Thematic Apperception Test”: She showed her subjects a series of illustrations and asked them to make up a three-minute story to accompany each scene. In one session, the volunteer and experimenter spoke only French, while the other session was conducted entirely in English.

Image from the Thematic Apperception Test

Image from the Thematic Apperception Test

Ervin then analyzed the stories, looking at the different themes incorporated into the narratives. When she compared the two sets of storiesshe identified some significant topical differences. The English stories more often featured female achievement, physical aggression, verbal aggression toward parents, and attempts to escape blame, while the French stories were more likely to include domination by elders, guilt, and verbal aggression toward peers.

In 1968, Ervin—by this point, “Ervin-Tripp”—designed another experiment to further explore her hypothesis that the content of bilinguals’ speech would change along with the language. This time, Ervin-Tripp looked at Japanese women living in the San Francisco area, most of whom were married to American men and many of whom had American children. Most of the women were largely isolated from other Japanese in America, and spoke Japanese only while visiting Japan or talking to their bilingual friends. Ervin-Tripp had a bilingual interviewer give the women various verbal tasks in both Japanese and in English, and found—as she expected—important differences.

For instance, when the women were asked to complete the following sentences, their answers differed depending on the language in which the questions was asked:

Scholars have also used more qualitative methods to try to understand language’s impact on personality. In 1998, Michele Koven, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spent a year and a half carrying out ethnographic research with bilingual Parisian adults whose parents had immigrated from Portugal. All of her subjects were fluent in both French and Portuguese, and most maintained close ties to Portugal while living in France; many planned on returning eventually, though most also had monolingual French friends. Koven focused specifically on how her subjects represented themselves in narratives of personal experience, which she elicited by asking them to recount various life events in both languages. When Koven transcribed and analyzed the content of their accounts, she saw that her subjects emphasized different traits in their characters, depending on which language they were speaking. For instance, the women in the French stories were more likely to stand up for themselves, whereas the female characters in the Portuguese narratives tended to cede to others’ demands. And their own personas changed, too. One girl, Koven writes, sounded like “an angry, hip suburbanite” when she spoke French, and a “frustrated, but patient, well-mannered bank customer who does not want attention drawn to the fact that she is an émigré” when she spoke Portuguese. Whether that’s due to the different context in which she learned French and Portuguese, an inherent difference between the two languages, or some combination, researchers have yet to figure out.

Image via Shutterstock


posted in: the plankculturelanguagebilingualismlinguistics


[Repost] What is language? 8 myths about language and linguistics (by AllThingsLinguistic)

What is language?
8 myths about language and linguistics


What is language?

Language is an arbitrary, conventionalized association between a symbol and a meaning: there’s no necessary connection between the meaning of a word and how it’s represented in language (spoken, signed, or written). This idea comes from Saussure.

If there was a necessary connection between symbol and meaning, we would expect there to be only one possible language. Even for domains where there’s a closer link, such as onomatopoeia and the first words that a baby speaks (often mama, baba, papa, dada since these are easy to articulate), there are still differences cross-linguistically. And for other words, such as dog, chien, perro, languages differ even more.

The conventionalization criterion distinguishes language from other, non-linguistic forms of communication, such as body language and gesture. Two monolingual speakers of English are equally likely to produce similar or dissimilar gestures in describing a given situation (such as a ball rolling down a hill) as a monolingual speaker of English and a monolingual speaker of another spoken language, but two speakers of ASL will produce signs to describe that situation in a way that are systematically similar to each other and different from another sign language such as BSL.

What is grammar?

In linguistics terms, your mental grammar is the system of unconscious rules and patterns behind how you speak. It’s what tells you that “the cat sat on the mat” sounds natural in English but not “cat the mat the on sat” (although the equivalent could be fine in another language), or that “blick” could be an English word but no “bnick” or “tlick”. You aren’t formally taught a mental grammar, and it’s not just a list of all the words and sentences you’ve heard, because you can also understand words and sentences that you’ve never heard before:

“Last week a former Royal Marine who is the boyfriend of the model Kelly Brooks crashed into a bus stop while driving a van carrying a load of dead badgers.” (via Language Log)

anti-paper, anti-anti-paper, anti-anti-anti-paper “people who are against people who are against using paper” (etc)

What is a language?

A language like English, French, Japanese, etc. is an accumulation of all the unconscious rules in the brains of all the speakers who can understand each other. Mutual intelligibility is generally how linguists distinguish languages from dialects, although in practice there are also social factors at play. (Hence the quote: “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy”). For example, although Swedish and Norwegian are mutually intelligible, they’re spoken in different countries so people often call them languages, while Mandarin and Cantonese are not mutually intelligible at all but are sometimes both referred to as Chinese.

Even with the mutual intelligibility test, there are inevitably going to be some inconsistencies between the mental grammars (idiolects) of various speakers, but there are enough general similarities that we can all understand each other and can thus be said to speak the same language. And although a language exists in the minds of speakers, as a speaker if you just up and decide some day that you’re going to call a pen a “frindle” that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is part of the language, because no one will know what you mean, but maybe if you do it long enough it might eventually spread more broadly. Linguists often study language in just a few individuals because any individual is a representation of how the human mind works with respect to language, even though there is also variation between individuals.

What is linguistics?

Linguistics is the study of human language, as we actually speak it, both in terms of an individual language spoken by an individual person and what that tells us about language in general. Linguists seek to answer questions like: what are the unconscious rules that we use when we speak? And, since no one ever actually taught us these rules, how did we come to learn them?

Myths about language

Myth #1: Children learn to speak through explicit teaching or memorization

Children learn language long before they enter a classroom, just from exposure to it, and they produce language that they couldn’t have ever heard before based on figuring out linguistic patterns. A classic example showing that children figure out patterns in language that they can generalize to unfamiliar data is the wug test, but another source of evidence comes from children’s overgeneralizations of irregular forms. For example, children may produce goed, eated, foots despite the fact that they’ve only ever heard went, ate, feet.

In fact, children may even resist explicit teaching of language, as this example shows:

Child: Want other one spoon, Daddy.
Father: You mean, you want THE OTHER SPOON.
Child: Yes, I want other one spoon, please, Daddy.
Father: Can you say “the other spoon”?
Child: Other … one … spoon.
Father: Say … “other.”
Child: Other.
Father: “Spoon.”
Child: Spoon.
Father: “Other … Spoon.”
Child: Other … spoon. Now give me other one spoon?

Myth #2: Animals have language just like humans

Animals can communicate with each other, but human language is unique for several reasons. Firstly, human language is recursive: sentences can be infinitely long (or as long as your breath/memory will hold out) by embedding one phrase or sentence into another. Some examples from children’s songs: “the branch on the tree and the tree in the hole and the hole in the ground…”, “…she swallowed the spider to catch the fly, and I don’t know why she swallowed the fly…”, “…who lived in the house that Jack built”.

Human language is also creative and productive: you can make sentences and even words that no one has ever heard before (e.g. snowpocalypse, I’m all cookied-out). Finally, human language is more abstract than animal communication: we can talk about past and future and even hypothetical events and entities. Although bee dances can communicate information about food and distances, and dogs can recognize names of toys and even whether you’re happy or angry, neither of them can tell you about how their weekend was or what they’d do if they had a million dollars.

Myth #3: Reading and writing are an essential part of language

Not all languages are written, and language has been around at least a hundred thousand years before any writing. Spoken and sign languages (at least for young children) are acquired naturally and without conscious effort, whereas reading and writing can take years of formal instruction and effort that results in varying levels of proficiency. Writing is also idiosyncratic and doesn’t reflect everything about spoken language (and is often even less accurate for sign languages). Spelling doesn’t change as quickly as speech and is more standardized.

English spelling is also complicated and inconsistent. For example, the sound /i/ can be spelled at least 8 different ways, as in meet, eat, Pete, funny, key, quay, machine, and ceiling. And the symbol “e” can represent at least 4 different sounds, as in pen, game, redo, and the. Even in languages with more logical spelling systems, like Spanish, the spelling doesn’t reflect the whole language because it misses important aspects like prosody (the intonational pattern of a sentence or phrase).

Linguistics looks at the sounds of language and analyzes the words based on their sounds, not their spelling, although “non-standard” spellings can often give clues as to how words were pronounced when we don’t have recordings of speakers.

Myth #4: Some languages/dialects are more complex or better than others

Children learn whichever language they are exposed to at a similar rate (although children exposed to multiple languages may learn each language slightly slower, they will catch up and often exceed their monolingual peers within a few years). What seems “simple” or “complicated” to you as an adult depends on what you already know: for example, if you speak a language that already has tone or case marking or definite/indefinite articles or a tense/lax vowel distinction, these concepts will seem easy to you, but if you haven’t been exposed to them early, these concepts will seem hard.

Languages that are straightforward in one area are often complicated in another area. For example, a language with a rigid system of word order and many prepositions may lack case marking, while a language with many cases may have freer word order and/or fewer prepositions. Another example is that a language with fewer sounds overall is likely to have longer words than a language with many sounds (the number of possible words of length CV is the number of consonants C in the language times the number of vowels V in the language), and languages with less complicated syllable structure tend to be spoken faster.

There’s some evidence that languages that have been learned by a lot of speakers in adulthood are likely to be more isolating, while languages that have predominantly been learned by speakers in childhood are more likely to be more agglutinative/polysynthetic, suggesting that these might be factors in relative ease or difficulty, but children are still equally capable of learning any language and even if we end up finding some differences, this is not evidence for one language being superior. (There are definitely easier and harder writing systems though: English-speaking children, for example, take longer to learn to read andare diagnosed with dyslexia at higher rates than Spanish-speaking children, because the English orthography is far more irregular than the Spanish one.)

Languages or dialects that people think of as “better” reflect a social (and often racist) judgement about who has power or who is considered more important, not anything intrinsic about the language itself (here’s one example).

Myth #5: Languages deteriorate over time

It’s common to think that “kids these days” aren’t talking as well as previous generations, but all living languages change over time and it is not a sign of inferiority: any language at any stage still consists of complex subconscious patterns. Borrowing words also doesn’t make a language inferior or corrupt: all languages borrow, and borrowed words get adapted into the sound system and grammar of the borrowing language.

Myths about linguistics:  

Myth #1: Linguists speak all the languages

Linguists aren’t necessarily polyglots, and a linguistics course will definitely not teach you how to speak all the languages (if only it were that easy!), although an awareness of the diverse features of language may make it somewhat easier to learn languages in the future. Although some organizations such as the military use “linguist” to refer to people who speak multiple languages, this is not the same as an academic/theoretical linguist. For more, see Why linguists hate being asked how many languages they speak.

Myth #2: Linguists correct/criticize how people talk

Linguists analyze language how it exists, not how some people wish it exists: for a linguist to tell someone that they’re speaking wrong is like a biologist telling a bird that it’s singing wrong. You may be thinking of grammar mavens, editors, and/or lexicographers, although many editors and pretty much all lexicographers are actually quite tolerant about this kind of thing and only give feedback when asked. For more on the interplay between prescriptivism and copyediting, see this post.

Myth #3: Linguistic/grammar rules include things like don’t split infinitives, don’t use ain’t

Linguists analyze the part of grammar that is automatic and generally subconscious. Grammar rules that you have to be taught in English class or a style guide are:

a) Often about spelling/punctuation, not the structure of the language, and we’ve already established that writing doesn’t reflect the full language anyway

b) Often based on the misapplication of Latin grammar to English by 18th or 19th century grammarians (for example, the confusion about “you and me” vs “you and I”)

c) Often modelled on the speech of people who have historically had power (rich old white men).

None of these are particularly relevant to answering the question of how language in both its diversity and commonality came to exist in the human mind: linguists analyze what people actually do when they’re speaking, not what they or someone else thinks they should do.


Cf. original:

[Repost] Word histories: conscious uncoupling (by Simon Thomas)

Shared on fb by ElleDi Traduzioni


Word histories: conscious uncoupling


 Simon Thomas blogs at

Published4 April 2014


Tags ,

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (better known as an Oscar-winning actress and the Grammy-winning lead singer of Coldplay respectively) recently announced that they would be separating. While the news of any separation is sad, we can’t deny that the report also carried some linguistic interest. In the announcement, on Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop, the pair described the end of their marriage as a ‘conscious uncoupling’. So… what does that mean?

The phrase was picked up by journalists, commentators, and tweeters around the world. Some called it pretentious, some thought it wise, others simply didn’t know what was going on. Let’s have a look into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and see what we can learn about these words.

Conscious is perhaps the less controversial word of the pair. A look through the Oxford Thesaurus of English brings up adjectives like awaredeliberate,intentional, and considered. But did you know that the earliest recorded use ofconscious related only to misdeeds? The OED currently dates the word to 1573, with the definition ‘having awareness of one’s own wrongdoing, affected by a feeling of guilt’. This sense is now confined to literary contexts, but it was only a few decades before the general sense ‘having knowledge or awareness; able to perceive or experience something’ became common. The idea of it being used as an adjective referring to a deliberate action came later, in 1726, according to the OED’s current research.

The verb uncouple has an intriguing history. The current earliest evidence in the OED dates to the early fourteenth century, where it means ‘to release (dogs) from being fastened together in couples; to set free for the chase’. Interestingly, this is found earlier than its opposite (‘to tie or fasten (dogs) together in pairs’), currently dated to c.1400 in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In c.1386, in the hands of Chaucer and ‘The Monk’s Tale’, uncouple is given a figurative use: ‘He maked hym so konnyng and so sowple / That longe tyme it was er tirannye / Or any vice dorste on hym vncowple.’ The wider meaning ‘to unfasten, disconnect, detach’ arrives in the early sixteenth century, and that is where things rested for some centuries.

The twentieth century saw another couple of uncouples – one of which is applicable to the Paltrow-Martins, and one of which refers to a very different field. In 1948, a biochemical use is first recorded – which the OED defines ‘to separate the processes of (phosphorylation) from those of oxidation’. But six years earlier, an American Thesaurus of Slang includes the word as a synonym for ‘to divorce’, and this forms the earliest example found in theOED sense defined as ‘to separate at the end of a relationship’. Other instances of uncouple meaning ‘to split up’ can be found in a 1977Washington Post article and one from the Boston Globe in 1989.

So, despite all the attention given to the term ‘conscious uncoupling’, people have been uncoupling in exactly the same way as Gwyneth and Chris – and using the same word – since at least 1942. So perhaps not quite as controversial as some commentators suggested.


Cf. original:

[Repost] On mother tongue, native speakers and other linguistic myths (by Pierre Fuentes)

On mother tongue, native speakers
and other linguistic myths

It is often said that real professional translators translate only into their ‘mother tongue’ because only ‘native speakers’ are fully competent in ‘their language’. I wish to question these linguistic myths.

What does ‘mother tongue’ mean?

The meaning of the expression ‘mother tongue’ is ambiguous.

Admittedly, the only language that monolingual speakers generally claim to know is that of their mother. They first learnt that language through interaction with their mother, at an early age.

But the world is diverse. Some people first learned their father’s tongue. Some did not have parents. Some were raised by people who spoke different languages.

Moreover, the expression ‘mother tongue’ poses an ideological problem, because some people imply that their mother tongue is the mother of their identity, as if, without it, they would not be ‘their true selves’.

Such a claim can bring people together, as in the case of the Irish slogan ‘ní tír gan teanga’ (no land without language).

But we must not forget that romantic slogans can also be used to discriminate towards the Other.

The Nazis, for instance, used mother tongue fascism to justify linguistic discrimination towards multilingual Jewish Germans. They claimed that these multilingual speakers were perverting the ‘mother tongue’ because they were not true ‘native’ German speakers.

I will let you reflect on what ‘perverting a tongue’ might mean and move onto my second question.

Who’s the ‘native speaker’?

One can only marvel at the term ‘native speaker’. This bizarre expression implies either that we were born speaking – a rare achievement – or that we were born into a language. My non-native instinct tells me we’ve got a metaphor on our hands.

Obviously, ‘native speaker’ does not imply that we are linguistically autonomous from birth. In fact, nothing much happens linguistically in the first year of our lives. Any parent of a young child will confirm this: what first happens with your newborn is communication.

When we use the term ‘native speaker’, we imply that a person has alegitimate competence in a given language.

But how do we make it legitimate? By being born with it, or by acquiring it? In other words, does native legitimacy come from innate or learned behaviour?

As sociolinguist Deborah Cameron recently pointed out, UK statistics suggest that the test for British citizenship applicants advantages native speakers of white European ancestry. So it would seem that there are different types of native speakers and that they are not all legitimate.

Interestingly, discourses that promote the ‘native speaker’ concept are often qualified with adjectives like ‘pure’, ‘perfect’, ‘authentic’ or ‘unique’.

Let’s take a look at translators

Some of us have developed a high level of oral or written comprehension in various languages, but cannot speak or write such languages as ‘correctly’ as ‘native speakers’ would. Some of us can even write languages that we cannot speak.

Sounds weird? Try speaking like Julius Caesar. While we can read him and write like him, no one really knows what this true native Latin speaker sounded like.

In any case, we don’t need to interact with living people to read or write a language – be it ancient or modern. These activities involve a different type of language use than, say, buying a pint for your mates on a Friday night.

Indeed, it has to do with how we use languages. Since we do not speak like we write, conversation plays a limited role in the work of most professional translators. Speaking like a true native is therefore far less important than having excellent writing skills.

The second mother tongue

Using the language of your mother on a daily basis does not make you a professional translator. And English has in common with many minority and endangered languages the fact that most of its speakers were not ‘born into it’.

While these ‘new speakers’ are often criticized by those who claim to be ‘natives’ – for their mistreat of language conventions, ie illegitimate use – some of these new speakers reach a level of competency that is so high that their new language becomes their language of habitual use – a fact that ITI’s Code of Professional Conduct takes into account.

Such competency allows them to claim certain legitimacy, at least in some areas of language use. They may not be able to have a laugh in that language at the pub on a Friday night, but they can translate medical reports that most ‘natives’ would simply not understand.

As a group of intellectuals commissioned by the EU once put it, some people are capable of adopting a ‘second mother tongue’. Language diversity is not about building walls between languages. It is about recognising the diversity of use human beings make of their tongues.

About the author:

Pierre Fuentes is a French translator and a registered architect who works mostly with texts in the fields of architecture, design, property and construction engineering. He suffers from lingophilia, having been severely exposed to English and Spanish and, to a lesser extent, to several other languages, including Galician, German and Irish.

“Sillabare” – un pratico e semplice tool di Giuliano Pascali

Anche quest’oggi, sulla scia del mio post di qualche giorno fa, voglio proporvi un progetto sviluppato da Giuliano Pascali.

Questa volta non si tratta di mappe linguistiche o di ricerca terminologica per analizzare i differenti usi di una stessa parola in tutta l’Europa (, ma di un simpatico e semplice tool per la sillabazione delle parole.

La presentazione dell’autore:

Sillabare è facile con

Ecco un ottimo servizio per dividere in sillabe online, parole e frasi in lingua italiana. agisce in tempo reale sillabando i termini mentre questi vengono digitati sulla tastiera del PC. Per utilizzare, non devi far altro che collegarti al sito e cominciare a scrivere nel campo di testo nel mezzo dello schermo. Mentre digiti, il testo verrà suddiviso automaticamente in sillabe, con dei trattini.

Come appare la grafica del sito - Come funziona
Come appare la grafica del sito – Come funziona

In alto a destra c’è anche un contatore, con il numero delle sillabe aggiornato in tempo reale. Il contatore si illumina quando il verso è endecasillabo oppure settenario. E’ una spia che segnala a chi sta componendo versi, la coincidenza di quanto scritto con il metro scelto.
Ci sono opzioni per eliminare il trattino di separazione mentre si scrive o per usare come segno di separazione una barretta, utile nell’utilizzo di programmi per il karaoke (anche qui occorre la divisione in sillabe!). 


E’ un tool gratuito, a disposizione di chiunque lo voglia usare per divertimento, come ausilio alla scrittura in versi, o come strumento didattico nelle scuole. Ha suscitato interesse presso situazioni di bambini con difficoltà del linguaggio, problemi di dislessia e ritardo nell’apprendimento.
Può diventare un utile strumento informatico di supporto alla didattica sia in ambiente domestico che scolastico.

Qui potete trovare sinteticamente le regole per una corretta sillabazione.

Semiotycs: il gioco-tool by Giuliano Pascali

Qualche mese fa ho fatto un “repost” relativo alle parole simili nelle lingue europee. L’articolo era accompagnato da una serie di mappe dell’Europa in cui venivano identificate le analogie e le differenze nell’utilizzo di alcuni termini specifici nei vari Paesi presenti.

Qualche giorno fa, invece, ho trovato un’email nella posta elettronica che richiedeva la mia attenzione. Il mittente era Giuliano Pascali. Informatico ed appassionato di lingue e materie umanistiche, mi ha informato di aver sviluppato un “gioco-tool” utilizzando proprio quelle mappe e, in cerca di un po’ di visibilità, mi ha domandato se fossi interessata a divulgare il suo progetto.

Così… eccolo qua! 🙂

Cliccando sul link vi ritroverete direttamente alla mappa delle parole.

Di seguito vi lascio la presentazione scritta da Giuliano.

Buona lettura!

La mappa delle parola in Europa
(semiotica comparata)

Somiglianze e diversità delle lingue.

Ecco un sito che ci permette di indagare su come si dice una parola nelle principali lingue europee.
Scegli una parola e clicca traduci, in pochi istanti avrai la traduzione sulla mappa in più di dieci lingue.
E’ un gioco divertente che ci permette di indagare sulla diversità, la somiglianza e provenienza dei termini scelti. Alcune parole hanno una radice universale, e una traduzione molto simile. Altre invece sono completamente differenti a seconda del ceppo di appartenenza.
Sito delle lingue nella mappa


Il ceppo latino, francia, italia, spagna. Il ceppo slavo del centro est europa, il ceppo scandinavo e quello anglosassone della zona anglotedesca. Fantastico il caso della parola ananas che ha un tipo praticamente universale, fatta eccezzione per le due grandi storiche potenze coloniali, che curiosamente hanno un suono diverso da tutti le altre nazioni, ma simile tra loro. Che sia solo un caso ?
E’ bello osservare le contaminazioni, avvenute nella lingua per vicinanza geografica francia spagna italia, ragioni storiche e circostanze commerciali militari e marittime. L’inghilterra trova vicinanza linguistiche con i paesi del mare del nord, con la norvegia, mentre la finlandia risente notevolmente della presenza russa. La polonia pur geograficamente dislocata, rientra tra le lingue slave e ha suoni molto prossimi ai balcani. La romania invece che rimane in quella zona, ha un impronta latina e i suoi termini spesso risuonano come quelli dei paesi mediterranei.


La germania che a volte divide suoni con gli anglosassoni della gran bretagna, influenza la zona dell’olanda a sua volta della svezia. Le tre repubbliche baltiche denotano una forte identità anche linguistica, mentre il portogallo a volte svela tutto il suo legame con la spagna, fino al cinquecento erano un unica nazione, d’altro canto sorprende con suoni nuovi e bellissimi che raccontato la sua storia di grande potenza del mare, alternativa (anche come terre di interesse) a spagna e inghilterra. La turchia ponte tra l’europa l’oriente, porta con se un timbro linguistico del mondo arabo oltreuropeo. L’islanda senza dubbio terra di mare e del nord, mantiene non solo geograficamente la sua unicità. E che dire dell’italia ? Centro della lingua di origine latina, al centro del mediterraneo, con influenze arabe francesi spagnole normanne. Le lingue: affascinante dinamico contenitore della nostra esperienza e della nostra vita raccontano in maniera incantevole, segreti misteriosi o lampanti che nel corso dei secoli hanno raccolto e compreso.

Buon divertimento, buona esplorazione. Il gioco traduce in tutte le lingue ma anche da tutte le lingue, quindi se avete amici estoni francesi o polacchi beh ..buon divertimento anche a loro!

Vai a Semiotycs, il gioco delle lingue sulla mappa
Il gioco è ispirato a una serie di mappe etimologiche comparse su alcuni siti, segnaliamo

Giuliano Pascali

[Repost] 4 Good Reasons Why People Say “I Could Care Less” (by Arika Okrent)

4 Good Reasons Why People Say “I Could Care Less”


March 4th: It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative (march forth!). Since 2008 it has also been National Grammar Day, a holiday conceived by Martha Brockenbrough of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. Rather than use the occasion as a chance to go around correcting mistakes or teaching the finer points of usage (plenty of other people have those beats covered), I like to take the opportunity to focus on the sometimes weird and wonderful things that languages do (or that people do with languages). Last year I had fun with 7 Sentences That Sound Crazy But Are Still Grammatical. This year I’d like to go over a few good reasons why people say, “I could care less.” The list does not include “because they’re stupid and have no idea how logic works.” It turns out, there are a number of things about English that conspire to make “I could care less” a less irrational phrase than it might seem.


A number of language writers have suggested that “could care less” has a sarcastic reading, conveying something like “Ha! As if there were something in the world I could care less about.” There are some American Yiddish-inflected phrases that work this way, like “I should be so lucky!” (meaning “there’s no way I’m ever gonna be that lucky”) or “I should care!” (why should I care?). Even if “could care less” didn’t originate from a sarcastic intent, it matches up well enough with these other forms in the language to help give it staying power.


Why use “could care less” if we also have “couldn’t care less”? There are other pairs of phrases in English about which you could ask the same question. Why say “that will teach you to leave your car unlocked” when you really mean “that will teach you not to leave your car unlocked.” Some other phrases that can mean the same thing with or without the negation:

You know squat about that. You don’t know squat about that.

I wonder whether we can make that work. I wonder whether we can’t make that work.

You shouldn’t go, I think. You shouldn’t go, I don’t think.

I can hardly wait. I can’t hardly wait.

Again, there’s an existing framework that helps “could care less” blend right in.


Evidence for the use of “could care less” goes back to 1955, with “couldn’t care less” appearing only about 10 years before that. But long before that the phrase “No one could care less than I” was in use. Think about how you might respond to such a phrase in a certain type of conversation. “I’ve never been so insulted in my life! How dare they imply such a thing! No one could care less for the trappings of fame than I!”

“I could, darling. I could care less.”

The rest of the comparison, “than you,” is left understood. Perhaps “I could care less” also carries a shadow of the original phrase and a hidden comparison. “I could care less … than anyone.”


People might not have any thought of sarcasm, positive/negative phrase pairs, or implied comparison when they use “I could care less,” but when they use it, it’s as a set idiom, something they’ve heard before and learned as a unit. We have plenty of idioms that serve us perfectly well, despite the gaps in logic that appear if you look at them too closely. Consider “head over heels” (shouldn’t it be heels over head?) or “have your cake and eat it too?” (shouldn’t it be eat your cake and have it too?) or “the exception proves the rule” (shouldn’t it be the exception invalidates the rule?). There are reasons these idioms developed the way they did, but we don’t have to know anything about those reasons, or the original meanings, to use them perfectly sensibly. Same goes for “I could care less,” which people only ever use to mean “I couldn’t care less,” never the opposite. It doesn’t cause legitimate confusion, though it does cause quite a bit of consternation. In any case, it’s here to stay.

For more on “could care less” see the collection of links on this topic at LanguageLog, columns by Jan Freeman at Boston Globe, John McIntyre at the Baltimore Sun, and Ben Zimmer at Visual Thesaurus, and the snappy overview by Bill Walsh in Yes, I Could Care Less: How to Be a Language Snob Without Being a Jerk.

March 4, 2014 – 11:00am

Linguist, author of In the Land of Invented Languages, lives in Philadelphia, talks with a Chicago accent.