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Tracking "words for X" fluctuations

"Eskimo’s kennen nog maar drie woorden voor sneeuw", De Speld, 3/21/2011 ("Eskimos now have only three words for snow") — subtitle "Klimaatverandering debet aan taalverarming" ("Climate change to blame for language impoverishment"): Een uitgebreid taalonderzoek onder 1.000 Inuit heeft uitgewezen dat het aantal woorden dat hun taal kent voor sneeuw is gereduceerd tot drie. In […]

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From the "words for X" annals

From Ryan Pagelow's cartoon Pressed: Correspondent Rory Finn, originally a foreign correspondent (before the paper shut the foreign desks down), now gets shunted from one desk to another. (Hat tip to JC Dill.)

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Another "words for X" competition

In a NYT Op-Ed yesterday, Iain Gately described finding himself at a loss for words in Spanish ("Besotted — Etymologically, That Is", 12/31/2008): I cleared my hangover on Boxing Day by going for a surf at Espasante, near my home in Galicia, northern Spain. […] A fisherman — with Anton, the town pig by his […]

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Two words for truth?

The "No Word For X" trope is a favorite item in the inventory of pop-culture rhetorical moves — the Irish have no word for "sex", the Germans have no word for "mess", the Japanese have no word for "compliance", the Bulgarians have no word for "integrity", none of the Romance languages have a word for "accountability", and […]

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Scots words for snow

Several people have sent this in: "Scots 'have 421 words' for snow", BBC News 9/23/2015: Academics have officially logged 421 terms – including "snaw" (snow), "sneesl" (to begin to rain or snow) and "skelf" (a large snowflake). The study by the University of Glasgow is part of a project to compile the first Historical Thesaurus […]

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We have a winner

William Lashner, Fatal Flaw, 2009: What are we looking at when we are looking at love? Eskimos have like six billion different words for snow because they understand snow. Don’t ever try to snow an Eskimo. But for six billion different permutations of emotional attachment we have just one word. Why? Because we don’t have […]

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400 words for "your cute friend is next"?

Adding, ironically, to our "words for X" file, Scott Adams at the Dilbert Blog writes: Here's a list of three things that you are unlikely to do, at least in this order: 1.       Watch a Swedish movie called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 2.       Read about the Swedish sex charges against Julian Assange 3.       […]

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Hay foot straw foot

Here's something for our "Words for X" file, along with some historical fiction and a bit of relevant psychology.

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Pop-Whorfianism in the comics again

Alex Baumans and Eric Lechner independently sent in copies of today's Speed Bump, for our "Words for X" file:

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MSM science bait

Jorge Cham at PhD Comics follows up on his analysis of the science news cycle:

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No words, or too many

As we've recently seen, people love the idea that a culture is revealed by its lexicon. The earliest example of this trope that I can think of is in Michel de Montaigne's 1580 essay "Of Cannibals". This is one of the founding documents of the "noble savage" tradition, and presents the alleged lack of certain […]

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'No word for X' archive

Responding to the popularity of this morning's post on the politico-lexical economy of fair, here's a list of some earlier LL posts on aspects of the No Word for X meme and its rhetorical deployment [updated for some later ones as well…]: "No word for 'runoff'?", 12/23/2020 "'No words for mental health'", 9/8/2020 "Two few […]

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Reverse Whorfianism and the value of SHAs

Yesterday's Zits: For a teenage boy, according to this joke, the idea of cleaning up his own messes is so alien that learning to understand its expression in simple English is part of learning a foreign language. I suspect that the stereotype is at least somewhat unfair, in terms of age as well as sex; […]

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