Tag: German

March 24, 2020

Umlauts, Diaereses, and the New Yorker

Several weeks ago, the satirical viral content site Clickhole posted this article: “Going Rogue: ‘The New Yorker’ Has Announced That They’re Going To Start Putting An Umlaut Over Every Letter ‘O’ And No One Can Stop Them”. I’ve long enjoyed poking at the New Yorker for its distractingly idiosyncratic style,* but I had a couple […]

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Historical linguistics, Style 9 Replies to “Umlauts, Diaereses, and the New Yorker
June 1, 2017

Cognates, False and Otherwise

A few months ago, I was editing some online German courses, and I came across one of my biggest peeves in discussions of language: false cognates that aren’t. If you’ve ever studied a foreign language, you’ve probably learned about false cognates at some point. According to most language teachers and even many language textbooks, false […]

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Historical linguistics, Rants 4 Replies to “Cognates, False and Otherwise”
March 17, 2014

Book Review: Schottenfreude

German is famous for its compound words. While languages like English are content to use whole phrases to express an idea, German can efficiently pack the same idea into a single word, like Schadenfreude, which means a feeling of joy from watching or hearing of someone else’s miseries. Well, in Schottenfreude: German Words for the […]

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Book Reviews 4 Replies to “Book Review: Schottenfreude
December 20, 2013

The Pronunciation of Smaug

With the recent release of the new Hobbit movie, The Desolation of Smaug, a lot of people have been talking about the pronunciation of the titular dragon’s name. The inclination for English speakers is to pronounce it like smog, but Tolkien made clear in his appendixes to The Lord of the Rings that the combination […]

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Historical linguistics, Phonology 20 Replies to “The Pronunciation of Smaug”
November 23, 2012

Hanged and Hung

The distinction between hanged and hung is one of the odder ones in the language. I remember learning in high school that people are hanged, pictures are hung. There was never any explanation of why it was so; it simply was. It was years before I learned the strange and complicated history of these two […]

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Grammar, Historical linguistics, Semantics, Usage, Words 10 Replies to “Hanged and Hung
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