One of the things everyone remembers about Shakespeare, whether they spent a few weeks on one play in high school or an entire semester on several plays in college, is that he wrote in iambic pentameter. Some may also have vague recollections about their teacher explaining that iambic pentameter isn't difficult to understand, because English "naturally" falls into its rhythms.  Continue reading...
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Many paradoxes are tied up with language, specifically language's ability for self-reference. This self-reference causes a loop it can be difficult to get out of. Beyond creating paradoxes, it also raises the question of whether the individual sounds in words mean things.  Continue reading...
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Words can be thought of as historical artifacts; they carry with them a stamp of time and place, and sometimes it's important to take the long view and think about words outside their immediate context and use a broader perspective.  Continue reading...
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We'd like to welcome Adam Cooper, a writer and linguist, as our newest regular contributor! Here Adam explores how solving crosswords (both American-style and British-style) can offer unexpected pleasures in wordplay. "Sometimes being misled, at least for a little while, can lead you to the most rewarding destinations," he writes.  Continue reading...
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Peggy Parish's Amelia Bedelia has been a beloved children's character since her debut in 1963. Through many adventures (39 at last count) Amelia has approached any given task with wide eyed innocence, all the while misinterpreting the key word in a task to humorous and often disastrous effect.  Continue reading...
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"In the mood for dance"? "My heart bleeded"? While creating vocabulary lists of unusual words found in pop music, writer and linguist Adam Cooper ran across some words that go beyond peculiarity and into the realm of error.  Continue reading...
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High/low, yes/no, black/white. There's something reassuring about opposites. A lot of vocabulary teaching is done using pairs of opposites, and with good reason: learners really feel they have a handle on a concept if they grasp its antithesis. There are, however, some other concept families that are best learned using three terms — triples — that provide a middle ground which in turn enhances all three concepts.  Continue reading...
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