I am closing comments on all threads in preparation for moving LH to WordPress. I apologize for the temporary inconvenience, but I think you’ll like the results.

Update. Thanks to the devoted work of Songdog, we finally have a new, improved LH that (knock wood) won’t have a spam problem! For the moment I’m opening all posts to comments, so feel free to go through the archives and chat about old topics—your comment will show up on the spiffy new Recent Comments thingie. And of course let me know if there’s anything that needs fixing. Thanks to all of you for your patience, over the last year of ever-increasing spam and the long weekend of a frozen site!


  1. This seems a very brave move. I wish you great luck. Just to note, that on Firefox at least, My Hats and My Languages both return unknown on this server messages.

  2. Retract that, they both work on a second attempt.

  3. narrowmargin says

    I click on MY LANGUAGES and MY HATS and they both take me to a Yahoo search-result page. I’m using Firefox and have tried clicking on both of them several times. Does this happen to anyone else?

    By the way, will you no longer have a PREVIEW button so we can take a last gander at our comments before we post them?

  4. narrowmargin says

    OK, now it’s my turn to take it back. I had to pull up a completely new home page and then come back here and now they’re both working.

    Now then, about that PREVIEW button…..?

  5. Hurrah, hurrah!

    My Languages and My Hats still don’t work: they return 404 errors, indicating that those files were not copied over. I’ve posted them temporarily to my website: My Languages page, bookshelf image, My Hats page.

    I redouble the request for a preview pane.

  6. Hmm, my comment is awaiting moderation. Too many links, perhaps. Given the kind of comments people write here, that might be a good thing to adjust; three links is just too few.

  7. Congratulations on the new move. For my taste, the typography could be tweaked a little: everything seems so big and spaced wide, compared to the old site, and I think the serif font on the old site (Georgia?) fit better with the contents than the sans. Just being picky.

  8. The typography and layout are not polished but we decided not to delay launch while we work on those. The Languages and Hats pages have been in place since before we launched the new site, but the URLs of those (and pretty much everything else) have changed, so there are redirects involved and this evenings DNS change and cached information on browsers and servers everywhere and it might take a little while for everything to work smoothly. I’ll look into comment preview tools and am open to recommendations!

  9. Thanks, Songdog.

    Other things to change are the text color in the comment box (it’s unreadably light for my eyes) and the length of the “recent comments” list. If we can bring back “recently commented posts”, that would be even better.

  10. Kudos to Songdog for preserving past comments. Many sites, including my local newspaper, move to a new CMS and lose years of comments. For LH especially that would have been a terrible loss.

  11. What? No Louis Vuitton?!!

  12. Well, this is great. I’m especially grateful for preserving the treasure trove of years of comments.

  13. Welcome back, and congratulations on the move! Thank you Songdog.

  14. Trond Engen says

    Congratulations from me too. The low-key visual elegance of the old site will be missed, but if that’s what it takes to fence off the fashion touters, so be it. If I may add a wish for the new site, being able to link directly to a specific comment (or, say, point to it by number) would come handy, especially in longer threads.

  15. Congratulations on the move. Hope the tweaking doesn’t take too long. Yes, comment preview is mandatory. And let’s hope this is the end of the spam.

  16. Yes, it does require a bit of tweaking; it’s still a bit rough around the edges. But blogs (as opposed to ordinary websites) are a bastard to deal with. The fact that this has gone smoothly speaks volumes for Songdog’s technical skills.

  17. Wow, works nicely on an iPhone, too!

  18. Looking good, Hat. Kudos to Songdog for the work, and to you for this bold step.

  19. Thanks, Songdog.

    Good riddance, Louis Vuitton.

  20. Red, black, and white? I always said that Hetlir had a flair for vulgar art. But seriously, it’s, like, instantaneous. I hope it remains spam-frei. Sorry, should I rephrase that? Ah, whatsoever!

  21. Thanks, Songdog! And congratulations to languagehat.

  22. Yes, thank you, Songdog and Languagehat!

  23. Congratulations! Looking good so far!

  24. Yes, it’s great that the transition is going smoothly and old comments are preserved. Congratulations!

    Trond, the time stamp for each comment has a link to it. It’s a URL that ends in something like “#comment-115126”.

  25. Yay! Bigger font, like that. The design could use a bit of tweaking, methinks, it’s not as pretty as the old one…

  26. Yes, all praise to Songdog for his dogged work to bring this site into the current decade and free me from the morning spam-clearing ritual!

  27. Congrats to Songdog and LH! Nice to have some visual novelty in the daily browse. Have you kept any screenshots of the old site for posterity? I’m already starting to forget exactly what it looked like.

  28. Congratulations and Hurray!

  29. I think it’s all fab. I love it, it’s great, I love the red bits. WELL DONE, SONGDOG! Congratulations, Language.

  30. Max Pinton says

    Anyone feeling nostalgic for the old site (or wanting to compare it to the new one) can use the Wayback Machine, Here we are back in 2003 wearing our bell-bottom jeans, praising Songdog for the new site:

  31. Now I’ve taken the time to scroll around, I am impressed. Well done. Congrats to Soddong.
    P.S. “It’s a beacon of attentiveness and crisp thinking”: there’s a coincidence; at this time of the evening my thoughts turn to crisps too, preferably with a glass of Oloroso. There you are: a new compliment – “Language Hat is Oloroso-friendly”.

  32. marie-lucie says

    Hello everybody!

    When I first saw the new look yesterday I was shocked by the huge difference with the old format! I am getting used to it, I realize that it is still unfinished, and have a number of comments and suggestions toward the final appearance.

    – Like Trond, I miss the “visual elegance” of the old format! The now bigger letters are very legible but a smaller and prettier font (preferably with serifs) could be used with no lack of legibility. Letter size could also vary with the importance of the texts (I mean, the post and comments can be largish but the names, dates and right column info could have smaller letters).
    – I would prefer to see a narrow margin on the left of the main post. The letters starting right at the left edge of the text is OK for the titles but make the text look like some letters must be missing on the left. There is a margin in the comment box and the posted comments, why not a smaller one in the space for the main post? Conversely, the left margin for the finished comments could be narrower.
    – I looked at Songdog’s own blog for comparison. Even on a black background, the letters are very legible (and even elegant) even though they are quite small. They would be too small for here, but I think that a version intermediate in size could be used here.
    – I was used to seeing the posted comments (and the previewed ones) as well as the main post across the full screen (by clicking on the date and time, not the word “comments”) and the new comment space is now much narrower, so that with the larger size of the letters and more space between the lines and between the comments the reader has to scroll a lot more to see the what has been written. This may be an incentive for people to keep their comments short, but that is not always what is needed.
    – Is there a technical reason for each comment to be in its own rectangular space, like someone sitting on a beach towel? That creates a lot of empty space both above and below each comment. With the smaller page size, the reader doesn’t see much text on the page, especially if the comments are short. It makes it difficult to follow a thread and see how various comments relate to each other.
    – There is a lot of red, and I find the contrast of red and black rather strong, especially since the red letters are all underlined. On the other hand, I agree with John Cowan that the light grey of the letters in the comments box is too pale, at least for some of us with aging eyes.
    – I miss the previous references to comments as dealing with the posts and showing the numbers of responses. Personally, for this type of blog I prefer to see in advance what topics received comments rather than who left a comment. (Similarly, I prefer to see a signature after rather than before the comment). And why capitalize both people’s names and post titles?
    – Finally, along with others I hope you can still have a Preview function, without which it is impossible to see a long comment (like this one) before posting. Preview prevents a lot of typos, unwanted italics, avoidable repetitions, and other undesirables. Adding Preview is probably more urgent than all the other details.

    I wrote more than I thought I would. Nobody has to agree with me. I will come here regardless.

  33. I almost feel sorry for LV – got kicked out of here and out of Red Square at about the same time.

    Wish comment previews had not have to go away.

  34. des von hyperbladet says

    If I may add a wish for the new site, being able to link directly to a specific comment (or, say, point to it by number) would come handy, especially in longer threads.

    You mean like this?

  35. Trond Engen says

    Keith Ivey: Trond, the time stamp for each comment has a link to it. It’s a URL that ends in something like “#comment-115126″.

    Des: You mean like this?

    Yeah, it is a rather strong indicator thet it’s in red, isn’t it?

  36. will i be able to comment i wonder or am i supposed to be gone with the spam

    “The low-key visual elegance of the old site will be missed” – if the red links could be just bold grey or black and the font could be a size smaller, it would look almost like the old site and be more like easier to read and follow i guess, to my eyes, at least

  37. Did the old version have all-caps headlines? That’s the part that now seems jarring to me. Other than that, I’m all for WordPress, you’ll love it.

  38. Followup: I guess the headlines were all-caps, I looked on But much smaller.

  39. David Marjanović says

    Congratulations on the move!!!

    I agree that the contrast of red, white and black is too strong, and that the font of the headlines is too big – at least for the traditional all-caps.

  40. David Marjanović says

    Looks like every first-time commenter lands in the moderation queue.

  41. the font of the headlines is too big – at least for the traditional all-caps.

    Yes, I’m bitterly regretting my casual decision to put headlines in all caps back in July 2002. I didn’t even realize you could type them otherwise and style them all caps; if I’d done that things would have been much simpler. I may start doing them headline style (First Letters Cap), and to hell with consistency.

  42. Mmm, new car smell!

    When I adjust my browser window size, I prefer the extra width to go to the main body rather than the side margins.

    I notice your resources sidebar lists twice; you could replace one with and maybe

  43. I notice your resources sidebar lists twice

    How the heck did that happen? Thanks, I deleted one.

  44. marie-lucie says

    Why do I need to enter my name and email almost every time I want to write a comment?

  45. Congratulations on the move! Courageous.
    It’s all a matter of taste, the only thing that bothers me is red on links.

  46. NIce work. Welcome to WordPress! (As it happens, I just switched to an orange, black and white theme, too, albeit on a different theme framework.) This is very readable, and I like the typography. My main suggestion to you/Songdog would be to consider enabling nested comments. Also, if you’re going to have avatars, you ought to create a profile at and encourage regular commenters to do the same. I’m fairly certain that’s where this theme pulls the images from.

  47. I’m afraid I hate nested comments and specifically asked Songdog to eliminate them (they were turned on by default). To my mind, they are antithetical to the idea of general conversation that I try to promote. Otherwise, I’m glad you like the new look!

  48. AJP Ramsay "Bloody Disgrace" McDonald says

    I think it’s interesting (no worse) that commenters have strong opinions about such things as red, black & white or all-cap headlines. Surely these questions are ruled by personal taste. House style is entirely up to the house owner. It’s not like there’s anything offensive, like muzak or blobs & squiggles in the margins.

  49. Well, except that i have no opinions about such things; as long as I can type my words and have others read them, and others can type theirs and I can read them, I don’t care about colors and so on. Well, except that I like ’em simple and straightforward: no puce on mauve. I told Songdog (who tried desperately to get me to choose among all the multifarious “themes” on offer) to just pick something plain. Plain layout for a plain man.

    –The Plain People of Ireland

  50. Yes, like the pages of a book. You do focus on the writing here.


  52. Hat, I’m not sure how reliable the browser support for styling headlines as all caps through CSS was back then anyway.

    I’d like to see the “recent comments” list changed back to a “recently commented-on posts” list. It’s too easy for many comments on a single post to push other comments off the list, even if they’ve just been made within the last few hours. That’s even more true now that it’s possible to comment even on ancient posts.

  53. Songdog is aware of that and is looking into it; it’s something we’d all like. The problem is that it came with the MT setup and doesn’t seem to be part of what comes with WordPress. If anybody has any experience with it, please share.

  54. Songdog has shrunk the post titles by 1/3 and darkened the comment box text. All hail Songdog! Is the text OK now? He says he “can darken it all the way to None More Black if you like.”

  55. Yes, please: all the way to None More Black, particularly since the background is Not Quite White.

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