Some blogs I've been enjoying lately (and haven't mentioned previously):
I discovered Lexiophiles when, to my flattered surprise, it included Fritinancy among its "Top 100 Language Blogs." (I'm at #26. I'm in some very impressive company, but I seem to be the only "language" blogger who focuses on branding, naming, and other commercial applications of words.) Lists like this one often are shameless link bait, but the Lexiophiles blog is of real value to anyone with an interest in language. Each post appears in English plus one other language, and as far as I can tell the translations are done by actual humans. (Not that there aren't errors...) Here, for example, is a post on Spanish tongue-twisters (trabalenguas) in English and in Spanish.
Bill Brohaugh has dropped by and left comments here, which is how I know about his excellent blog, Everything You Know About English Is Wrong (which is also the title of one of his books). He's funny, he's smart, and he asks the right questions. For example, we don't conversate, so why do we deliberate?
Brian White, a copyeditor at the Louisville Courier-Journal, writes Talk Wordy to Me, in which he muses on words and language. Such as: what does it mean when a newspaper movie review provides a ratings warning for "brief language"? (Words of four letters?)
And some end-of-summer diversions:
Nothing to do with language at all, but I just can't stop telling people about WalkScore. Enter your address and ZIP code (U.S. only; sorry) and find out how walkable your neighborhood is on a scale from 0 to 100. Mine is 80--"very walkable"--although a neighbor just three blocks away scored 97, "walker's paradise," which seems more accurate. Most days I do fine without a car. Even more interesting, the Los Angeles neighborhood I grew up in (Miracle Mile) scores an 85! Yep, Los Angeles. And WalkScore apparently doesn't even know about my old elementary school, a block and a half from our house; it doesn't show up in the results. Back in the day, my brothers and I walked or biked everywhere (or took the bus), partly because our mother didn't drive. That's right: in Los Angeles.
By now, just about everybody has blogged about Wordle, but see if that stops me from chiming in. Wordle creates beautiful tag clouds out of your blog post, web page, or other text. I'd show you an example, as Beancounters did, but whew--too much work to save and reproduce. Just go over there and play with it.
Why does German sound--well ... funny to English speakers? Toronto grad student (possibly a professor by now) Daniel Bader explains in this post from 2005. Synopsis: it's because English "developed something rather unique in a language, two virtually completely distinct registers," with neologisms being coined from ancient Greek and Latin and everyday vocabulary coming from Anglo-Saxon and French. Not so in German, where neologisms are cobbled together from German. Which sounds funny.
And speaking of, or in, German, if schadenfreude's your game, you'll love Typos in Print, which ferrets out misspellings, usage errors, and proofreading slips in popular fiction, nonfiction, and even--gasp!--Strunk and White. You can play along at home, according to blog author Tim Stewart:
Go to amazon.com, select the "Books" section , enter a commonly misspelled word (such as embarassed, occurence, or even inteligence) as your search query, and then hit "Go." Then sort the results by "Bestselling" and chuckle at the book titles and snippets that come up. People, those are real, live published typos. Copyeditors of the world, untie!