Google Translate is an app that's been critical to my success when travelling in other countries. When you don't speak the language (or don't speak the language well) somewhere you're travelling, being able to quickly look something up, or speak into the phone to create a translation you can use to chat with that guy on the street can be a lifesaver.
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"The important thing to know about spelling is that it's not just rote memorization," says Ananya Vinay, champion of the 2017 Scripps US National Spelling Bee, who will ceremonially open this year's bee next week. While Vinay uses flashcards to study specific words, she says the real trick is learning where different words come from.
Of all the tricky grammar topics, who versus whom ranks right up there: get it wrong, and you risk looking like a rube. Get it right and you risk looking pretentious. Get it wrong in a different way and you risk looking like a pretentious rube. So we at Lifehacker, who want to be both right and non-pretentious (but only sometimes succeed), thought we'd do a little research and break down the whole who/whom thing once and for all.
Look, I'd rather you not say "bless you." But it seems most of you aren't ready to take that leap, so here's Expedia's guide to politely responding to a sneeze in just about every country in the world. Mexico's is especially fun.
New parents hear the advice often: You need to talk to your baby! A lot! The book SuperBaby proclaims 30,000 words a day is the magic number for optimal language success. One landmark study found that kids who heard 45 million words by age three later scored the highest in reading and maths. There's even a wearable word counter that you can clip onto your infant's onesie and see via an app whether you're meeting your daily word goals. Basically, a verbal Fitbit.
The English language is constantly evolving, with new words and phrases spreading among us like an infection - we hear things, then we say those things. The problem is that we don't always bother to wonder if we should. Because of that, the original meaning of some demeaning and hateful expressions get lost in time. Here are some widely used examples.
Say you're looking up the Möbius strip on Wikipedia and you wonder how it's pronounced. Wikipedia only shows some elaborate pronunciation guide written in the International Phonetic Alphabet. You could start googling it in another tab, but there's an easy way to translate that pronunciation guide into plain English. Just hover over the letters.
It was confirmed last year, after much internet confusion, that Scar and Mufasa of The Lion King are indeed brothers. I am glad that's settled. Now the only remaining head-scratcher is: Why the heck does Scar have a British accent when no other lion around has one? Was he educated at some British lion boarding school? Watch a whole lot of Brit feline flicks? Most likely, the reason is this: Filmmakers often use foreign accents and non-standard dialects to voice "bad" characters.
Though we grumble about it, most native English speakers have just accepted that sometimes the language doesn't make a whole lot of sense, contenting ourselves to memorise an elaborate series of tricks and sayings to help us keep things straight. But it seems one question has been plaguing people for long enough that someone had to research it: why do people add an extra "r" that doesn't exist when pronouncing the word "sherbet"?
So, you want to learn to speak and write a new language, huh? Not just "hello" and "thank you," but really learn it well enough that you could live in the country of origin? Hope you're ready to commit. If you're a Native English Speaker, these are the languages that will take the most and least time to become proficient in.