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Imagine yourself among the travelers to North America 500 or more years ago, arriving initially by ship as the earliest European explorers did, but equipped with the trained sensibility of a modern linguist.  Continue reading...
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I would like to consider myself among the modern vanguard, letting language take its natural course and evolve as its owners — that is to say, its speakers — allow it to. But at the same time, I spend hours every week at the rock face of language change — that is to say, in classrooms full of young people — and while there, I cannot but lament the passing of some niceties of English.  Continue reading...
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2015 is the International Year of Light. The Language Lounge will observe the solemnity of the occasion in a more low-tech way, by taking up the idea of light in language. It's one of the most productive concepts for metaphor in English.  Continue reading...
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Scientists have long been interested in the role that genetics plays over evolutionary time in the production of genetically distinct populations in all organisms. When the organism in question is homo sapiens, there's a new twist in the tale because people need to talk, and talk accompanies nearly everything that we do, including procreation.  Continue reading...
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Have you ever sent a really EPIC tweet? There are different ways to answer that question: I'll proceed with one way that probably doesn't occur to you. The EPIC tweets under the microscope here are tweets that are of interest to Project EPIC — that is, Empowering the Public with Information in Crisis.  Continue reading...
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Oversight has two rather contrasting meanings. There's oversight-1: "an unintentional omission resulting from failure to notice something"—something you generally want to avoid. And there's oversight-2: "management by overseeing the performance or operation of a person or group"—something that in a perfect world would happen all the time, and would ideally prevent a lot of oversight-1s from happening. Why use the same word to designate such contrasting things?  Continue reading...
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One of the delightful features of English is what we might call a mashup. That's a good term for this type of word because it exemplifies the phenomenon: a word formed by the fusing of a verb and a particle, nearly always a particle that can operate independently as a preposition or an adverb, sometimes as both.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 125 Articles