6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 774 Articles

The Oxford English Dictionary's recent quarterly update added, as usual, as assortment of terms from all over the map. These included ethnomathematics, honky-tonker, honor code, exfoliator, bookaholic, over-under, wackadoo, and the even wackier wackadoodle. But the entry that really caught my eye was bestie, an affectionate term for a best friend.  Continue reading...
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An intriguing new theory holds that Egyptian animal mummies were intended as messages to the gods. The theory is yet more fodder for an age-old problem: how do we reconcile our dependence as humans upon language to communicate to divine beings who in nearly all cases are thought to have pre-existed the emergence of languages that we use and who could never have learned them in the natural way that we do?  Continue reading...
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Meryl Davis and Charlie White made history this week as the first Americans ever to win the Olympic gold medal in ice dancing. But for language watchers, an even more interesting question than who would take first place was this: What's a twizzle?  Continue reading...
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While watching the Winter Olympics, did you ever wonder why figure skaters await their scores in the "kiss and cry" area? Stefan Fatsis, sports blogger for Slate, tells the story behind the phrase.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Remembering the "Gear" Language of The Beatles

When the Beatles invaded America 50 years ago, it wasn't just their music and hairstyle that struck Americans as novel, but their Liverpudlian language as well. In his latest column for the Wall Street Journal, Ben Zimmer looks at how words like "gear" and "fab" emerged out of the Liverpool dialect known as Scouse. Read the column here.
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In just about every city, people repeat variations of the saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait an hour." And for good reason. Weather is an ever-changing — and, on our stressed-out globe — increasingly extreme phenomenon. Weather never stops: it just keeps shifting and mutating into something else. That sounds like another natural phenomenon I know: language.  Continue reading...
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The Plain Writing Act, which Congress passed into law in 2010, is well intentioned. Too much public writing — that includes government, business, and legal writing — is confusing and disorganized. But the law can't work, because language can't be legislated.  Continue reading...
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6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 774 Articles