Archive for Languages

“Every Day, Another Language Dies”

I have a variety of concerns and dubiousnesses about Heather Altfeld’s essay “Every Day, Another Language Dies,” published at Lit Hub in May. (Originally published in Conjunctions 70, under the title “Obituary for Dead Languages.”) But I nonetheless found it a poetically lovely and sad eulogy for languages lost and languages we’re losing, so I […]

Learning Spanish terms via etymology and cognates

As I’ve been slowly learning Spanish via Duolingo, I’ve found the large number of cognates between Spanish and English very useful. Sometimes, false cognates get in the way; the most common example I see of that is the word embarazada, which English monoglots may assume means “embarrassed,” but which instead means “pregnant.” But setting aside […]

Alicia Vikander on Swedish slang

From Vanity Fair: “Alicia Vikander Teaches You Swedish Slang,” a 4-minute video. I initially assumed this was a straight-faced joke, with Vikander (the Swedish actress who’s playing Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider movie) making stuff up; but no, apparently these are real Swedish slang phrases. Though some commenters suggest that some of her […]