Category Archives: Dictionaries

RhymeZone – Find rhymes, synonyms, and more

rhyme
RhymeZone is a great website to see how a word is used in the context of famous quotes, poems, and plays, but also an easy way of finding rhymes and a whole lot more. Here’s a brief overview of what Rhymezone can do for you:

Find rhymes: This function will return words that exactly rhyme with the word you typed in.
Find near rhymes: This function will return words that almost rhyme with the word you typed in.
Find synonyms: This function will return words that are the same or similar in meaning to the word you typed in.
Find anonyms: This function will return words that can mean the opposite of what you typed in.
Find definition: This function will search for definitions of the word you typed in. It will also allow you to submit your query to other online dictionaries on the Web.
Find homophones: This function will return words that have exactly the same pronunciation as what you typed in but are spelled differently.
Find similar sounding words: This function will return words that have a pronunciation that’s similar, but not necessarily the same, as what you typed in.
Match consonants: This option will return words that have the same pattern of consonant sounds. Phonetic, for example, will return fanatic.
Find related words: This option will return words that are related in some important way to what you typed in.
Find similar spellings: This option will return words in the dictionary that are spelled similarly to what you typed in. Use this feature to spell-check a word that you aren’t sure of.
Match these letters: This option will return words and phrases that contain the letters you type in.
Search for pictures: This function will search for kids-friendly pictures on the Web related to the word you typed in.
Search in Shakespeare: This function will search all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems for your word.

The Star Wars English-Japanese Dictionary

Star Wars English-Japanese DictionaryHere’s a great new way to study Japanese or English: using this awesome Star Wars English Learner’s Dictionary from Japan that teaches you through Star Wars quotes. It’s much easier to learn a language when you can connect it to knowledge you already have, and this might be a great way for you or your Padawan to study! So do, or do not. There is no try!

For sale at Jbox.

Wörterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache

Wörterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache

The Wörterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache is a rather obscure source for German slang, but we kind like it and we would really like to recommend mundmische.de, a quality choice to find out that words like Schniposa do exist for real.

English explodes in India – and it’s not just Hinglish

Hinglish
Anyone who travels beyond Delhi and Mumbai to India’s provincial cities will notice English words cropping up increasingly in Hindi conversation,” writes BBC. While some of these terms fell out of use in the UK decades ago, others are familiar, but used in bold new ways.

Picture the scene. I’m chatting to a young man named Yuvraj Singh. He’s a college student in the Indian city of Dehra Dun. We’re talking in Hindi. But every so often there’s an English word. It’s Hindi, Hindi, Hindi, and then suddenly an English word or phrase is dropped in: “job”, “love story” or “adjust”.

What should we make of this? It’s not that Hindi lacks equivalent words. He could have said the Hindi “kaam” instead of “job”. Why mention the English words? And what’s Yuvraj speaking? Is it Hindi, English, an amalgam “Hinglish”, or something else?

In 1886 Henry Yule and Arthur Burnell published Hobson-Jobson, a guide to words from Indian languages that had passed into English.

You can search through it for references to the origins of words such as “shampoo” and “bungalow”. But now many Indian citizens are using English words in the course of talking Hindi – or Tamil, or Bengali etcetera.”

Read on at the BBC.

Links:

BBC: Hobson-Jobson – The words English owes to India
On Wikipedia: Hobson-Jobson
Digital Dictionary – Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive.
Digital Book at archive.org:

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

sorrow
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of made-up words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language, to give a name to an emotion we all feel but don’t have a word for.

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Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Sonder


sonder /SAHN-der/
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Keta


keta /KAY-tah/
n. an image that inexplicably leaps back into your mind from the distant past.

The Dictionary Has Been Wrong About Siphons for 99 Years

translate english to german berlin

“Dictionaries are pretty solid authorities about what words mean, but they overextended themselves when reaching a bit in the definition for the word siphon,” writes Mashable. “The Oxford English Dictionary and many others have erroneously claimed that atmospheric pressure makes siphons work for 99 years, so Dr. Stephen Hughes did some research to set them straight.

Dr. Hughes noticed that the OED misidentified atmospheric pressure as the thing that makes siphons work back in 2010. Really, it’s gravity that causes liquid to flow up the short side of a siphon and down the long side, but the original definition for a siphon read,

A pipe or tube of glass, metal or other material, bent so that one leg is longer than the other, and used for drawing off liquids by means of atmospheric pressure, which forces the liquid up the shorter leg and over the bend in the pipe.

So, Hughes set about helpfully correcting the dictionary, but of course, he needed some proof. So, he tested a siphon inside a hypobaric chamber where he could change the level of atmospheric pressure and see if it had any effect on the siphon. As we’ve all (hopefully) learned, if you’re going to correct someone, you should really be sure you’re right first.

In Hughes’s experiments, the varied air pressure had a small effect on how the water flowed, but it didn’t have any effect on how much water traveled through the siphon over time. So Hughes concluded in a paper, published in Scientific Reports (that he somehow managed not to title “Neener Neener”), that he is smarter than the dictionary, and gravity is the real driving force.

The OED has changed its definition to remove the reference to atmospheric pressure, but Hughes isn’t fully satisfied with how ambiguous they’ve left the actual driving force behind a siphon. That’s still better than the rest of the world’s dictionaries, as he said,

But at least the reference to atmospheric pressure has been removed. The vast majority of dictionaries of all languages still incorrectly assert that siphons work through atmospheric pressure and not gravity.

Hopefully, the others will come around and change their ways. Sorry, dictionaries, but no book is safe from being proven wrong by science.”

You should try the 1913 Webster’s, seriously

Übersetzung deutsch englisch berlin

James Somers thinks you should switch to the Websters 1913 dictionary, and he cites John McPhee’s composition method of looking up synonyms for problematic words as the key to his peerless prose style. Somers makes a great case for the romance of historical dictionaries, but for my money (literally — I spent a fortune on this one), the hands-down best reference for synonyms and historical language reference is the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, whose magnificence cannot be overstated.

It makes sense: there was, and is, something remarkable about his 1828 dictionary, and the editions that followed in its line (the New and Revised 1847, the Unabridged 1864, the International 1890 and 1900, the New International 1909, the 1913, etc.). You can see why it became cliché to start a speech with “Webster’s defines X as…”: with his dictionary the definition that followed was actually likely to lend gravitas to your remarks, to sound so good, in fact, that it’d beat anything you could come up with on your own.

Take a simple word, like “flash.” In all the dictionaries I’ve ever known, I would have never looked up that word. I’d’ve had no reason to — I already knew what it meant. But go look up “flash” in Webster’s (the edition I’m using is the 1913). The first thing you’ll notice is that the example sentences don’t sound like they came out of a DMV training manual (“the lights started flashing”) — they come from Milton and Shakespeare and Tennyson (“A thought flashed through me, which I clothed in act”).

You’ll find a sense of the word that is somehow more evocative than any you’ve seen. “2. To convey as by a flash… as, to flash a message along the wires; to flash conviction on the mind.” In the juxtaposition of those two examples — a message transmitted by wires; a feeling that comes suddenly to mind — is a beautiful analogy, worth dwelling on, and savoring. Listen to that phrase: “to flash conviction on the mind.” This is in a dictionary, for God’s sake.

The whole story at jsomers.net.

The Oxford English Dictionary: crowdsourcing since 1857

r-OXFORD-ENGLISH-DICTIONARYcrowdsourcing since 1857
“The word crowdsourcing may be new, but the idea behind it is not, at least not in lexicography,” writes the Oxford Dictionary Blog. “In fact, the entry for crowdsourcing in Wikipedia (itself a stellar example of an effective crowdsourcing model), gives the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as one of the earliest predecessors of today’s largely Internet-based crowdsourcing projects.

Much of the historical and lexical information contained in the OED is based on the evidence of millions of quotations collected from English texts through the dictionary’s Reading Programme. Through this programme, the OED recruits voluntary and paid readers to gather quotations that illustrate the usage of words.

The OED Reading Programme started in 1857, when volunteer readers began to collect quotations for the British Philological Society’s planned New English Dictionary. Two decades later, the dictionary’s new editor, James A. H. Murray, launched a broader Reading Programme by publishing an appeal for volunteer readers, not only in Britain, but also in America and the British Colonies. “Anyone can help,” Murray wrote in his 1879 appeal, and soon after, he began receiving thousands of quotations from hundreds of volunteers, most of whom were interested laypeople instead of language specialists.”

Read on here…

Learn Early Indo-European Languages Online

IEMap
Learn how to read Sanskrit, Hittite, Avestan, Old Persian, Classical Greek, Latin, Koine Greek, Gothic, Classical Armenian, Tocharian, Old Irish, Old English, Old Norse, Old Church Slavonic, Old French, Old Russian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Albanian in ten lessons apiece.

From the Introduction to the Language Lessons by Jonathan Slocum and Winfred P. Lehmann:”Recent advances in determining the origin of western civilization and the settlement of Europe are based especially on findings in genetics, archeology and linguistics. The papers on the topic given at a conference that brought together eminent specialists in these fields under organization of the Banco Popolare di Milano have been published in Italian under the title Le radici prime dell’Europa. Gli intrecci genetici, linguistici, storici, edited by Gianluca Bocchi and Mauro Ceruti (Milan: Bruno Mondadori, 2001). While these three sciences all provide information on the settlement, only through linguistics can the people involved be identified. Yet linguistics dealing with the early period is least advanced of the three. Moreover, grammars published as introductions to the early languages are produced on the pattern of those designed for instruction of secondary school students of years past, who were expected to take eight years of Latin, six of Greek, and then proceed to the study of Sanskrit and other less widely studied languages like Old Slavic, Armenian, and Avestan. Under curricula of today, few scholars find such a course of study acceptable.

Moreover, the important ability with respect to these languages is that of reading texts, with or without the help of translations. The online introductions in Early Indo-European Online are designed to provide such ability. In this series, texts that in themselves are valuable for literary and historical as well as linguistic purposes are briefly introduced, glossed word-by-word, followed by grammatical descriptions, and accompanied by a complete glossary, a base-form dictionary, and an English meaning index. ”

Early Indo-European Online

How good is your English vocabulary, really?

keyboard-english
Ghent University in Belgium has created an online, almost arcade-game-like test of word knowledge.

How many English words do you know? With this test you get a valid estimate of your English vocabulary size within 4 minutes and you help scientific research.

In this test you get 100 letter sequences, some of which are existing English words (American spelling) and some of which are made-up nonwords. Indicate for each letter sequence whether it is a word you know or not by pressing the F or J key.

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