New Wiki Style Site Aims to Help English Speakers Understand Each Other

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Many cultures separated by a common language: New wiki style site provides a fun, free lexicon of English idioms, words and catch phrases from around the world.

Is it an insult to be called a stickybeak? If you’re riggwelted, is that good or bad?

A new web site (http://www.whatdoesthatmean.com), a fun, free lexicon of English idioms, words and catch phrases from around the world, will help you find out.

English is an incredibly diverse language. It has official or special status in at least 75 countries around the world, resulting in a great deal of regional variation. It is also very adaptable, taking up new words, phrases and meanings on a daily basis. Occasionally this means that English speakers don’t understand each other, even though they’re theoretically speaking the same tongue.

Whatdoesthatmean.com is designed to help English speakers translate each other. Built on the MediaWiki platform (the same platform used for Wikipedia and Wiktionary), the site allows anyone equipped with an Internet connection and a web browser to search for, add and/or edit entries.

The site will also be useful to those who speak English as a second or foreign language. Idioms cannot be taken literally; whatdoesthatmean.com provides explanations as to meaning, usage, and history. It also notes when terms are inappropriate or offensive, in order to prevent cultural misunderstandings.

Language buffs will enjoy browsing the site to add to their vocabulary, and adding entries to preserve and explain their local culture.

Marketing executives may find the site useful for checking the meanings of popular phrases to avoid embarrassing double meanings. Academics will also find the ‘living dictionary’ aspect of the site interesting as the database grows and new terms are added or changed over time.

For more information, contact cclarke@whatdoesthatmean.com, or visit http://www.whatdoesthatmean.com

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C. Clarke
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