AP's how-to-use-hyphens-wisely guide causes consternation among pedants

English is a glorious syncretic mess of a language, what you get when you blend together a bunch of mispronounced German, French and Latin words and then salt with the vernacular of a hundred other languages, without having to heed stern pronouncements from an official language academy. Read the rest

Parisians try to pronounce challenging English words like 'squirrel' and 'Massachusetts'

You gotta give it to these French-speaking folks for trying to pronounce these difficult-for-them English words. And you gotta give it Frenchly, the makers of the video, for making the words more challenging as it goes along. Psychophysicotherapeutics, anyone? [via; Previously] Read the rest

"Ass" is the most complicated word in the English language

Finnish comedian Ismo Leikola makes a compelling case that "ass" is the most complicated word in the English language. Read the rest

What English-language courtroom dramas sounds like to Swedes

It's not quite "Gibberish rock song written by Italian composer to sound like English", as it is in English. Sort of. It's the Englishiness of it all that makes it so good. Who put the ram in the ramalangadingdong? Warning: blackface.

Here's part 2:

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How to pronounce "Iguana" in English correctly

This helpful video from Como Pronunciar tackles this surprisingly difficult word. You might think you're saying it right—prepare to be surprised! Read the rest

What does English sound like to Italians? Listen to this 1972 pop song

Italian singer Adriano Celentano's "Prisencolinensinainciusol" hit the #1 pop song spot on the Italian charts in 1972. The lyrics consist of gibberish designed to sound like English. My brain tries to extract meaning from the nonsense words even though it knows there's nothing there. It's also a great song!

Italian singer Adriano Celentano wrote the song to mimic the way he thought American English sounded. “Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did,” said Celentano during a 2012 interview with All Things Considered. “I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn’t mean anything.”

Related: How English sounds to non-English speakers

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Barbaric, backwards ancestor worship

The fetishization of "correct" English -- which is to say, white, wealthy English -- is in direct opposition to everything that makes English such a glorious drunkard's debauch of a language. Read the rest

Animated history of the English language

If you've got 10 minutes, you can learn the history of English — including some interesting background on where specific words and phrases came from. (If you don't have 10 minutes, you can also watch the whole thing one chapter at a time in less-than-two-minute segments.) Interesting note: The equal importance of both The King James Bible and early scientific publications/societies to the formation of English as we speak it today.

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Y'all shouldn't feel bad about using "y'all"

I lived in Birmingham, Ala., for two years right out of college. While I was there, I became convinced that y'all is a reasonable and necessary word — a simple form of the plural "you" for a language that has no vosotros. Don't like "y'all" on principle? That's okay. There's a large diversity of grammatically-awkward-but-conversationally-necessary plural yous for English — a fact which makes me even more convinced that I'm right. Sometimes, y'all need a y'all. (Via mental_floss — ironically, the reason I was in Birmingham, to begin with — and Matthew Francis) Read the rest