1) E-mail. One of the things I was glad of when I got my own domain was that I would be able to use it for mail; my Yahoo inbox was almost full, and the NeoMail one had a great deal more capacity. Alas, not only was it quickly aswarm with spam, but lately I’ve discovered that a couple of my valued correspondents have sent me messages that I did not get. I only found this out because they told me; I fear that others must have had the same experience and simply thought I hadn’t cared enough to respond. Coincidentally, Yahoo (under pressure from Google’s Gmail) has increased its inbox capacity from 4 MB to 100 MB, which means mine is now almost empty as opposed to almost full, and I can go back to using it. [However, I have since gotten a Gmail address under the name languagehat which I use for LH-related correspondence.] So I hereby suggest that y’all write to me at languagehat AT yahoo DOT com; I’ll keep using the other for comments on other people’s blogs (hoping to keep the spam there) and I’ll keep checking it, so if you send mail there I should get it — [I have given up on it now] but if you’ve ever sent me mail and not heard back, please try again at the Yahoo address write me at languagehat @ I am very good about answering mail — even if I’m pressed for time, I send a quick “Thanks!” — so if I didn’t respond, it’s because I didn’t get it. Thanks for your understanding.

2. Comments. A number of people have expressed diffidence, either in a comment or via e-mail, about commenting here: they’re worried about their English, or afraid they’re not expert enough to be worth hearing, or something. Please don’t feel that way! This is not an Expert’s Corner, it’s a place for everyone with an interest in language (or poetry or any of the other things I occasionally discuss) to talk about it. I like to think of LH as your friendly corner cafe/bar, where people can wander in and stay as long as they like. You can contribute information, ask questions, or just joke around. But please don’t ask me if you’re Jewish — for the last time, I don’t know!


  1. Thanks for your generosity: you realise you just multiplied your mail-reading time by 25, don’t you?
    And the answer to all “Am I Jew?” desperate questions should be – Yes.
    See Kingsblood Royal – in same fashion.

  2. What Sir Hat is much much too modest to say here is that he is a wonderful email correspondent who usually write much more than “a quick ‘Thanks!'” to an email. ((feels horrible guilt about having never written back))
    People, this is not the “Who’s a Jew?” website

  3. writeS, writeS, why don’t I preview comments?

  4. Spam mail – yearrgh! And I don’t understand what happens with my BTYahoo spam filters. The main account seems to chuck just about EVERYTHING to the bulk mail folder including real emails. But the sub-accounts are much less fussy and even some spam mails end up in the inbox.
    I’m no linguist, and a terrible language learner. Some of what’s posted on LH goes over my head (whooh, ‘uvular fricatives’ in a recent thread…). But I really like it anyway (I looked that one up, so I learnt something too!).

  5. Sorry for the excess spamming you’ve been through, but even in this it had a purpose to prompt your welcome to comment from those of us who may read but fear to respond. Thank you.

  6. What about Swedish, can you tell me if I’m Swedish?

  7. Isn’t everyone, in these troubled days?

  8. I run the guestbook for a Devon history site, and get the same problem with people desperate for ancestors from Devon. It can be linguistically interesting for the false friends often cited: for instance, a hope that Artavia, a massively common Costa Rican personal name, has come from Artavia, an alleged Celtic name for the Devon village Hartland.

  9. Hat, I’m always terrified when I comment here — always looking back and thinking, “is that grammatical? Is that inteligible? Is that even English?” — so thanks for the encouragement!

  10. speedwell says

    As a small fish in a shallow pond (I keep a constant tutory eye on, I’m very grateful you said that, Mr. Hat. I do confess to being somewhat intimidated by the depth of discourse I commonly encounter here.
    I mean, I’m just a spelling champ with a good ear, an engineering groupie who happens to be an English snob. I’m not a linguist or anything….
    Speaking of spelling, I vote that since we are all adults here, we sort of overlook each other’s and our own spelling mistakes unless they’re really confusing. Thoughts?

  11. I completely agree. To me, spelling is a cute trick that can help one earn money proofreading but is uncorrelated with intelligence, wit, or (god knows) validity of argument. Especially in these days when English is the lingua franca for people from all over the world, some of whom wind up here, it’s rude as well as elitist to take someone to task for spelling a language that may not be their native tongue. Actually, though, I’ve seen very little of that here; people argue for elitist positions but don’t take it out on fellow commenters. Well done, all!
    Anne: Yes. Yes, you are. Now you must decide what to do with that knowledge.

  12. speedwell says

    Money? Proofreading?
    I tried that once. If I die laughing, my heirs will contact you at your address.

  13. I don’t mind misspelling (particularly with an absolute dispensation for non-native speakers) unless anyone sets themself up as an authority, on anything, and then they’d better do it right in their area of specialism or lose all credibility – like the time I once accompanied a partner to a private hair clinic whose brochures repeatedly mentioned “aloplecia”.

  14. I was going to ask if I was a Presbyterian, but the Swedish comment drove that idea into the ground.
    Be thankful you weren’t getting the hits that the Maury Povich post did:

  15. LH, if it were only your erudition we had to contend with, I for one might not feel so intimidated. The thought of misspellings and such doesn’t bother me, and I’m used to being around people who know loads more than I do (both my brothers, for instance). The problem is that nearly every goddamn one of your commenters seems equally erdudite! So, if folks like me continue to just stop, lurk and listen, please don’t take it amiss.

  16. There’s some on us that don’t know crap and comment anyhow.

  17. Lance Boyle says

    A question that’s almost germane, and seriously honestly has been intriguing me since at least 1985, is the origin of the Hispanic surname “Guzman”. It’s really common, and shows up all over the place from famous to infamous. It doesn’t fit the modality, Sanchez, Vargas, Guitierrez, Arroyo, Garcia, all have that staccato thing and (sorry I don’t know the terminology) Guzman is abrupt. says it means “good man” but that’s not Spanish in translation, right? A Genealogy site says it’s Basque.
    I’m guessing it’s got an interesting history. Any place I could go to find out? Reference work?

  18. I don’t have any reference works on Spanish surnames, but I’m guessing the theory is that the name is a relic of Visigothic rule, since Guzmán looks very Germanic (cf. OHG guot ‘good,’ man ‘man’). Whether there’s any actual evidence for such a derivation, I don’t know.

  19. If you want to know what a clwmffdeunc is see

  20. Chris J. Strolin says

    Greetings! I’m visiting your site today because it was one of 89 which came up when I googled “OEDILF” and I wanted to pass along three bits of news:
    1. We have long since left the Wordcraft site and will be completely up and running this week on
    2. The global press release is going out shortly and there is also news from our nation’s capitol which involves us that will be announced this Saturday. Many new voices are expected.
    3. Due to a legal wrangle from the Oxford University Press legal department, “OEDILF” now stands for “Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form.” Our goal is now to create a limerick for each and every word in the English language and not just those covered by the OED.
    Details are on our BB.
    Any and all lovers of the English language are welcomed to check out our new site particularly if your name is choatime, Clankus Maximus, Don Levey, Elizabeth, evinrude, fiercecupcake, Giles, Hazelsinger, Hilary Ann, indigofaerie, JB Segal, Karner Blue, LadyBeth, LizH, markmywords48, mechaieh, murlach, musik, Peter Sheil, q, Robot Johnny, slabgorb, or Valrus. All these individuals either posted limericks or otherwise expressed interest in our project while we were on the Wordcraft site and we’ve since lost contact with them. Wordcraft PMs went out with no luck. Posting limericks over there, technically, gave us the OK to use them on but I’d really like to do this up right and get them register.
    Chris J. Strolin
    Editor-in-Chief, OEDILF

  21. There’s something that has stumped me for days and days! I’ve been trying to find the answer to this question about the meaning and origin of a specific
    name. I’ve tried searching the Internet, but it just keeps getting harder for me. So I’m wondering if you can help me with this. Do you know anybody with
    the name Evinrude? The question that has struck my mind about this name is, what is it’s meaning and origin? Can you help me with this, please?

  22. Helping my mom find out where the surname Artavia comes from. She is from Quadalupe Costa, Rica. C.A. Her mother Oliva Salazar Artavia
    thanks, Liz

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