BROWSE BY DATE
Articles from 2011
Exploring the pathways of our lexicon
December 22, 2011By Ben Zimmer
Death has been in the news lately, with the passing of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il and former Czech president Vaclav Havel within hours of each other. Despite the very different legacies of the two world leaders, most English-language news outlets used the same wording to describe their deaths: in obituaries, both Kim and Havel simply died. But English, like many other world languages, has a rich vocabulary of terms for dying, from the blunt to the euphemistic. Continue reading...
Just in time for the holiday season, Merrill Perlman takes a look at the origins of some yuletide expressions. Continue reading...
Useful sites for educators
The Other VT: VoiceThread
December 20, 2011
If you want to give digital storytelling a whirl, check out VoiceThread — a site that helps your students create multimedia slide shows that can include narrative, still images, video, and music. And the beauty of VoiceThread as a collaborative classroom tool is that once a student shares a VoiceThread with the class, other students' comments are then incorporated into the VoiceThread presentation as well.
Writers Talk About Writing
December 20, 2011By Dennis Baron
University of Illinois linguist Dennis Baron is a regular Visual Thesaurus contributor, and we're proud to feature selected pieces he has written for his site, The Web of Language. Here, Dennis looks back on some of the top language stories that crossed his radar in 2011. Continue reading...
Teachers at Work
A column about teaching
December 19, 2011By Bob Greenman
When The New York Times was at its former site just off Times Square, and before the days of computers, when reporters clacked away on typewriters in a newsroom the size of an aircraft carrier flight deck, my high school journalism class and I toured the building annually, visiting the layout department, the newsroom and the press room. Continue reading...
Inventing Languages for Fun and Profit
December 16, 2011
If Mark Peters' review of the new book From Elvish to Klingon whets your appetite for constructed languages, be sure to check out the recent New York Times article on Dothraki, the language created for the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones. And also take a look at Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer's "On Language" column about the Na'vi language of Avatar, here.
Books we love
December 16, 2011By Mark Peters
When word nerdom and sci-fi nerdom collide, what do you get? A dictionary-bot that recites definitions while performing the duties of a butler? Someday, I hope that's true. For now, the answer is From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages: a thorough look at invented languages (also known as conlangs, short for constructed languages) from sci-fi and elsewhere. Continue reading...