Archive for February, 2013

Google Research and Mayzner’s Work on English Letters

Last week, I’ve read a quite interesting article about a work by Mark Mayzner who worked in Bell Telephone Labs, Barnard College, USC, NYU, and Loyola. It was a very detailed research about the frequency of letters in English. He analyzed 20.000 words from the books in 1965 to show this frequency. Now let’s learn about more his Google Research visit and its contribution to his work almost 50 years later! 🙂

Note: This part is a quotation from the blog of expectlabs. You can see the link at the bottom.

In 1965, Mark Mayzner meticulously analyzed over 20,000 words from books, magazines, and newspapers using an IBM card-sorting machine, in order to paint a more complete picture of the various word and letter frequencies that characterize the English language. Mayzner recently contacted Peter Norvig, Google’s head of research, to see if he could update his experiment by leveraging the enormity of data in the Google Books Ngram Corpus. Norvig agreed to the challenge, and updated Mayzner’s study by analyzing the over 97,565 distinct words which were mentioned over 743 billion times in the Google data collection. In fact, Norvig’s sample had 37 million more word occurrences than the 20,000-word sample that Mayzner used.

Norvig’s chart below visualizes letter counts by word position, with the frequencies proportional to the length of the bars. The results show that the most common first letter in English is T, while the most common second letter is O.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 21.58.51

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10 Casual Sentences Which are Totally Wrong

urlWe don’t always think when we talk. I mean, we don’t exert any efforts while uttering some casual sentences. We use them every day and we never question whether they make sense or not…

In English, there are also suc sentences that you use quite often but never give a thought about their grammar or semantic structure… 🙂

Thanks to, we are now aware of 14 of them. I’ve chosen the ones I like most. You can visit the website for more funny content not only about languages but also about other interesting issues.

I, Personally

Which one? — I or Personally? If you are using “I”, then I get to know that you are describing yourself, but you arr adding the word “Personally” in it. Which means that in a single sentence, you are using two describing words for yourself. This is totally wrong from the grammatical aspect.

I saw it with my own eyes

Yeah! You saw it with your own eyes. I mean, who doesn’t? Even insects see through their very own eyes! What’s the point? If you just follow the kind procedure of removing “own” from the sentence, no one will get hurt.

No offence, but ……..

It is obvious that when you are mentioning the word “No offence” in your sentence, you are going to say something offensive. That’s the sole reason you are saying No Offence. Actually, you are preparing the person in front of you to not punch you in the face.

I could care less

I could care less doesn’t mean anything sensible. In fact, it is a grammatical error from your part. No need to apologise though, it is pretty common.

Dude, how’s it hangin’

Why do you say the stuff that looks double meaning? How’s it hangin’ sounds something different from what you want it to mean. Read it again, you’ll see.

110 percent (Or any other percentage over 100%)

Why is this crap? Well, you are defying the laws of nature with including the numbers greater than 100 anywhere when percentage is being used. Nothing is greater than 100%.

Can I ask you a question?

You already are! Aren’t you?

Am I interrupting?

Woh! Didn’t you just did! Using this sentence will only increase the length of our conversation. Ask your Questions instead!

Can we talk?

You are already! What’s the point of saying a sentence like this?

I am just sayin’

Yes! Finally, you said it! But, wait, weren’t you saying so much stuff before saying the stuff you were saying?


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Proverbs and Quotations about Languages Part#2

urlHere is the second part of the previous blog post. I just copy the introduction. 🙂

Language is not only our job it is our life. It is one of the basic elements of communication and living as a society. It is not surprising that there are many sayings about languages. 

Here are different quotations or proverbs in different languages. They are not only sentences; they also reflect the viewpoint of the societies… :)


Translators are like ninjas. If you notice them, they’re no good.
– Etgar Keret (אֶתְגָּר קֶרֶת)

It’s no coincidence that in no known language does the phrase “As pretty as an airport” appear.
– Douglas Adams

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
– Joseph Addison

Language is the means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.
– Mark Amidon

By words the mind is winged.
– Aristophanes

As a hawk flieth not high with one wing, even so a man reacheth not to excellence with one tongue.
– Roger Ascham

He that travelleth into a country before he hath some entrance into the language, goeth to school, and not to travel.
– Francis Bacon

Belladonna, n.: In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.
– Ambrose Bierce

There is no such thing as an ugly language. Today I hear every language as if it were the only one, and when I hear of one that is dying, it overwhelms me as though it were the death of the Earth.
– Elias Canetti

When I use a word […] it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.
– Humpty Dumpty, Through The Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my dog.
– Emperor Charles V

England and America are two countries divided by a common language.
– George Bernard Shaw

Words are the leaves of the tree of language, of which, if some fall away, a new succession takes their place.
– John French

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

Every language is a temple, in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined.
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

When you go to a country, you must learn how to say two things: how to ask for food, and to tell a woman that you love her. Of these the second is more important, for if you tell a woman you love her she will certainly feed you.
– Louis L’Amour

Not only does the English Language borrow words from other languages, it sometimes chases them down dark alleys, hits them over the head, and goes through their pockets.
– Eddy Peters

Any time you think some other language is strange, remember that yours is just as strange, you’re just used to it.
– Linguistic Mystic

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
– Abraham Lincoln

Perhaps of all the creations of man language is the most astonishing.
– Giles Lytton Strachey

Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations.
– Edward Sapir

Own only what you can carry with you; know language, know countries, know people. Let your memory be your travel bag.
– Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
– Mark Twain

They spell it Vinci and pronounce it ‘Vinchy’: foreigners always spell better than they pronounce.
– Mark Twain

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
– Nelson Mandela

He that has many languages to expreese his thoughts, but no thoughts worth expressing, is like one that can write all hands, but never the better sense, or can cast up any sum of money, but has none.
– Samuel Bulter (1612-1680)

Absolutely nothing is so important for a nation’s culture as its language.
– Wilhelm von Humboldt

Language is the spiritual exhalation of the nation.
– Wilhelm von Humboldt

Has a nation anything more precious than the language of its fathers?
– Johann Herder

a sensible conclusion is that languages are ‘difficult’ in inverse proportion to the strength of motivation for learning them
– Reg Hindley

The loss of languages is tragic precisely because they are not interchangeable, precisely because they represent the distillation of the thoughts and communication of people over their entire history.
– Marianne Mithun

We infer the spirit of the nation in great measure from the language, which is a sort of monument to which each forcible individual in a course if many hundred years has contributed a stone.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

No man should travel until he has learned the language of the country he visits. Otherwise he voluntarily makes himself a great baby, – so helpless and so ridiculous.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Language is the most massive and inclusive art we know, a mountainous and anonymous work of unconscious generation.
– Edward Sapir

I am sorry when any language is lost, because languages are the pedigree of nations.
– Dr Johnson

The world is a mosaic of visions. With each language that disappears, a piece of that mosaic is lost.
– François Grosjean

Language embodies the intellectual wealth of the people who use it.
– Kenneth Hale

Language exerts hidden power, like a moon on the tides.
– Rita Mae Brown, Starting From Scratch, 1988

Language is the armory of the human mind, and at once contains the trophies of its past and the weapons of its future conquests.
– Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Language is wine upon the lips.
– Virginia Woolf

Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.
– Dave Barry

Men imagine that their minds have the command of language, but it often happens that language bears rule over their minds.
– Francis Bacon

Two languages in one head – no one can live at that speed! Good lord man. You’re asking the impossible! – Eddie Izzard


Il faut tourner sa langue sept fois dans sa bouche avant de parler.
One must turn the tongue seven times in the mouth before speaking = Think before you speak.

Le langage est une peau : je frotte mon langage contre l’autre. C’est comme si j’avais des mots en guise de doigts, ou des doigts au bout de mes mots. Mon langage tremble de désir.
Language is a skin : I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire.
– Roland Barthes

Un homme qui parle trois langues est trilingue.
Un homme qui parle deux langues est bilingue.
Un homme qui ne parle qu’une langue est anglais.
A man who speaks three language is trilingual.
A man who speaks two languages is bilingual.
A man who speaks only one language is English.

– Claude Gagnière

La parole a été donnée à l’homme pour déguiser sa pensée.
Language was given to man to disguise his thoughts.
– Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord

Quand on voyage sans connaître l’anglais, on a l’impression d’être sourd-muet et idiot de naissance.
When you travel without knowing English, you have an idea of what it’s like to be deaf, dumb and stupid.
– Philippe Bouvard


Consuetudo certissima est loquendi magistra.
Usage is the best language teacher.
– Marcus Fabius Quintilianus

Lingua mortua sola lingua bona est.
The only good language is a dead language.

Cave quid dicis, quando, et cui.
Beware what you say, when, and to whom.

Bene legere saecla vincere.
To read well is to master the ages.
– Professor Isaac Flagg

Qui habet aures audiendi audiat
He who has ears for hearing, let him listen
– from Regula Sancti Benedicti, Prologus (Prologue to the Rule of Saint Benedict)

Notitia linguarum est prima porta sapientiae.
Knowledge of languages is the doorway to wisdom.
– Roger Bacon


Una lengua natural es el archivo adonde han ido a parar las experiencias, saberes y creencias de una comunidad.
A natural language is the archive where the experiences, knowledge and beliefs of a community are stored.
– Fernando Lázaro Carreter

La lengua es la piel del alma
Language is the skin of the soul.
– Fernando Lázaro Carreter

La pluma es la lengua de la mente
The pen is the tongue of the mind.
– Miguel de Cervantes

Con cada lengua que se extingue se borra una imagen del hombre.
For every language that becomes extinct, an image of man disappears.
– Octavio Paz

Para ser lexicógrafo hay que tener una veta de locura idealista, porque la foto del lenguaje es imposible hacerla.
You need to have a streak of idealistic lunacy in you to be a lexicographer, as it is impossible to take a photo of language.
– Manuel Seco

Yo nunca me he quedado sin patria. Mi patria es el idioma.
I’ve never been without a country. My language is my country.
– María Zambrano


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Proverbs and Quotations about Languages

urlLanguage is not only our job it is our life. It is one of the basic elements of communication and living as a society. It is not surprising that there are many sayings about languages. 

Here are different quotations or proverbs in different languages. They are not only sentences; they also reflect the viewpoint of the societies… 🙂

Since it is a long list, I will leave the English, French, Latin and Spanish ones for the next blog post! 🙂



Limba dultsi multu adutsi
sweet language brings much



Hep brezhoneg, breizh ebet
Without Breton there is no Brittany



Човекът е толкова пъти човек, колкото езика знае
(Čovekãt e tolkova pãti čovek, kolkoto ezika znae)
the more languages you know, the more you are a person


Chinese (Classical)

書不盡言 言不盡意
(Shū bù jìn yán yán bù jìn yì)
Writing cannot express all words, words cannot encompass all ideas.
– Confucius

學而時習之 不亦說乎
(xué ér shí xí zhī, bù yì yuè hū)
Is it not enjoyable to learn and practice what you learn?
– Confucius

Chinese (Mandarin)

(Tiān bù pà, dì bù pà, zhǐ pà Guǎngdōng rén shuō Pŭtōnghuà)
I fear neither heaven nor earth, I only fear Cantonese speakers trying to speak Mandarin.

(xué yì mén yǔyán, jiù shì duō yí ge guānchá shìjiè de chuānghu.)
To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.

Chinese (Cantonese)

(Tìn m̀h gìng, deih m̀h gìng, jí gìng bākfòng yàhn góng Gwóngdùngwá m̀hjeng)
I fear neither heaven nor earth, I only fear Mandarin speakers speaking Cantonese badly.



Kolik jazyků znáš, tolikrát jsi člověkem.
The more languages you know, the more you are human.
or lit. “As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being”

– refers not just to the ability to communicate in different languages, but also the ability to share in various spiritual spheres of different cultures .
– Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk


Ἡ γλώσσα δὲν ἔχει κόκκαλα καὶ κόκκαλα τσακίζει
(I glóssa den éhi kókala ke kókala tsakízi)
Language/Tongue has no bones but it breaks bones.



I ka ‘ōlelo no ke ola; i ka ‘ōlelo no ka make
In the language there is life; in the language there is death



Click here to hear this phrase הֵחַיִּים והַמָווֶת בְּיָד הַלָשׁוֹן
Life and death are in the hands of the tongue
= mind what you say, for it might have great consequence



एक भाषा की बोली दूसरी की गाली | (ek bhaashaa kii boli doosrii kii gaalii)
A normal word in one language is an abusive word in other language



Nyelvében él a nemzet.
The nation lives through its language.
– Gróf Széchenyi István



Ti táo nga mannaríta, awán ti ania nga magapuánanna.
A man that talks too much accomplishes little.



Bahasa menunjukkan bangsa.
Language represents the nation.

Bahasa jiwa bangsa.
Language is the soul of a nation.


Irish (Gaelic)

Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.
A country without a language is a country without a soul.

Is fearr Gaeilge bhriste, ná Béarla cliste.
Broken Irish is better than clever English.



Un vocabolario può contenere solo una piccola parte del patrimonio di una lingua.
A dictionary can embrace only a small part of the vast tapestry of a language.
– Giacomo Leopardi

Lingua toscana in bocca romana.
Tuscan language in a Roman mouth.
– a popular saying concerning the origins of the Italian language, meaning that its grammar sprang from the dialect spoken in Tuscany, while Roman people have the best pronunciation.



말이 씨가 된다.
A word becomes a seed = what you say is what you get


Bahasa jiwa bangsa.
Language is the soul of a race.



Çheer gyn çhengey, çheer gyn ennym.
A country without language is a country without an name/identity.

Gyn çhengey, gyn çheer
No language, no country

Tra haink ny skibbyltee boghtey stiagh hie yn Ghaelg magh.
When the tourists came in, the Manx language went out.

Ta çhengey ny host ny share na olk y ghra.
A silent tongue is preferable to speaking evil.

Ta dooiney creeney smooinaght ooilley ny te gra, agh t’an ommidan gra ooilley ny te smooinaght.
A wise man thinks all he says, but a fool says all he thinks.

Yn beeal tutler poagey scrieu yn jouyl.
A gossip’s mouth is the devil’s postbag.

More Manx proverbs



Toku reo toku ohōho.
My Language, my awakening.



Det er viktig hvilke ord du bruker, men viktigere hvilket språk du bruker.
Du kan bytte ut ordene og si nesten det samme, men bytter du ut språket, hjelper det ikke om ordene er like.

Your choice of words is important, but more important is your choice of language.
You can replace the words, saying roughly the same, but if you replace the language, it won’t help you that the words are the same.

– Joachim Aremk



Mówienie jest srebrem, a milczenie złotem.
Talking is silver, while staying silent is golden.

Chodzi mi o to, aby język giętki
Powiedział wszystko, co pomyśli głowa;
A czasem był jak piorun jasny prędki,
A czasem smutny jak pieśń stepowa,
A czasem jako skarga Nimfy miętki,
A czasem piękny jak Aniołów mowa

I wish that a dexterous tongue
Could say everything that the head could think

– Juliusz Słowacki, from the poem Beniowski



Minha pátria é a língua portuguesa.
My homeland is the Portuguese language.
– Fernando Pessoa



भाषा प्रशस्ता सुमनो लतेव
केषाम्न चेतांस्यावर्जयति।
(bhāṣā praśastā sumano lateva
keṣām na cetāṃsy āvarjayati)
Language, auspicious, charming, like a creeper, whose minds does it not win over?
– sūkta – traditional maxim


Scottish Gaelic

Am fear a chailleas a chanain caillidh e a shaoghal.
He who loses his language loses his world.

Sluagh gun chanain, sluagh gun anam
A people without a language is a people without a soul

Chan fhiach cuirm gun a còmhradh.
A feast is no use without good talk.


Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda.
Those who know not how to love their own language are worse than an animal and a smelly fish.
Jose Rizal, Filipino national hero



Söz gümüşse sukut altındır.
If talking is silver, silence is golden.

Tatlı dil yılanı deliğinden çıkarır.
Sweet language brings even a snake from its hole.

Dilin kemiği yoktur ama kemikleri büker.
The tongue has no bone but it twists the bones. meaning: words may have disastrous effects.

Bir dil bir insan, iki dil iki insan.
One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people.



Скільки мов ти знаєш – стільки разів ти людина
(Skilʼky mov ty znaješ – stilʼky raziv ty ljudyna)
How many languages you know – that many times you are a person.
– Павло Тичина (Pavlo Tychyna)



Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon.
A nation without a language is a nation without a heart.



אַ שפּראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמיי און פֿלאָט
(A shprakh iz a dyalekt mit an armey un flot)
A language is a dialect with an army and navy.
– Max Weinreich

I want to thank to for this precious compilation. There are many useful and interesting information on their web site. Enjoy and wait for the second part published by! 🙂

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Facts about Languages

language_o (1)We are always curious about the facts about languages. There are so much information out there that it is just hard to follow.

Here are some interesting facts about languages around the world. I’ve compiled them from the website of I guess it is one of the most decent sources when it comes to languages. 🙂

How many languages are there?

It’s estimated that up to 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. 90% of these languages are used by less than 100,000 people. Over a million people converse in 150-200 languages and 46 languages have just a single speaker!

What are the world’s most spoken languages?

The world’s most widely spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language, according to figures from UNESCO (The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), are: Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French.

Which are the hardest languages to learn?

The ease or difficulty of learning another language can depend on your mother tongue. In general, the closer the second language is to the learner’s native tongue and culture in terms of vocabulary, sounds or sentence structure, the easier acquisition will be.

Endangered languages

Globalisation and cultural homogenisation mean that many of the world’s languages are in danger of vanishing. UNESCO has identified 2,500 languages which it claims are at risk of extinction.


The Latin, or Roman, alphabet is the most widely used writing system in the world. Its roots go back to an alphabet used in Phoenicia, in the Eastern Mediterranean, around 1100 BC. This was adapted by the Greeks, whose alphabet was in turn adapted by the Romans.

Why do we learn a second languages?

According to research, on average, people who use languages in their jobs earn around 8% more! Many scientists also believe that knowledge of another language canboost your brainpower.

Languages beyond the world

When NASA launched the ‘Voyager 1 & 2’ spacecraft in 1977, they put on board golden discs containing the sights and sounds of Earth, including greetings in 55 of the world’s most widely understood languages. These are currently travelling through space!

The origins

Some of the oldest languages known include Sanskrit, Sumerian, Hebrew and Basque. A study of macaque monkeys suggests that languages may have evolved to replace grooming as a better way of forging social ties amongst our ancestors.

Artificial languages

Around 200 artificial languages have been created since the 17th century. They include ‘Interlingua’(a mixture of Latin and Romance with Chinese-like sentence structure),‘Ido’‘Tutonish’ (a simplified blend of Anglo-Saxon English and German) and the more commonly-known ‘Esperanto’, invented by Ludwig Zamenhof, a Jewish ophthalmologist from Poland, in 1887.

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This Pen Vibrates When You Make a Mistake!

I love writing. I don’t mean typing- but writing with a pen or pencil. That’s why I am in love with beautiful mini notebooks and colorful Stabilo pens! I love taking notes and trying different pens to find the ultimate one. 🙂

And I know that it is just not me. Almost all of my colleagues who are translators love the smell of the notebook and the scratch of the pen. Instead of using our tablets, we prefer writing and we always carry a notebook in our bags. 🙂 However, this traditional habit has some drawbacks. We have been using computer for so long that I almost forgot the spelling of certain words! Yes, it is true. We are so accustomed to the auto-correction that we just type the words and we know that “something” will underline and correct it.

Here is the good news! Lernstift is a pen that vibrates when you make a spelling mistake! 🙂 It is a great tool for language learners or simply for kids… Let’s see how it works:

Lernstift is packed with sophisticated tech that recognizes all writing movements and lets you know when you’ve made a mistake – with an unmistakable vibration.

For centuries mankind has been learning to write. All that time, we used to depend on someone to look over our shoulder or correct spelling, grammar and form afterwards.
In the future we can get our feedback another way – and more importantly: instantly! With Lernstift. It combines a time-tested writing utensil with state of the art technology and thereby gives writing by hand new relevance and appeal in the age of iPad & Co.
The integrated electronics recognize mistakes as they are being made and give the writer a respective feedback by vibrating. In other words:

Lernstift is a great way to learn how to write faster. And what’s more: Lernstift is great fun, too!

For more information, watch the German video or visit the website! 🙂

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