background preloader

More Language, Words, & Meaning

Facebook Twitter

How Language Succeeds and Fails. 4 Changes to English So Subtle We Hardly Notice They're Happening. From 1946 to 1952, Eva Perón (full name: María Eva Duarte de Perón—though she was born Eva María Ibarguren) was Argentina’s First Lady.

4 Changes to English So Subtle We Hardly Notice They're Happening

Nicknamed Evita, she became a massively popular celebrity and icon to Argentinians, as well as a source of great controversy. Her life inspired the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber Broadway musical Evita (which became the 1996 film version starring Madonna), but there’s much more to the real Evita’s life. Here are 13 facts about Perón in honor of her birthday. Eva’s father, Juan Duarte, was a wealthy farmer who raised livestock and grew crops. The only problem was that he already had a wife and kids, so she, her mother, and her four older siblings were Duarte’s second family. In her early teens (most sources say she was 15), Perón left home to be an actress in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. Definition of Askance by Merriam-Webster. Half of All Languages Come from One Root Language. How it Spread Is Something of Debate.

The sheer variety of languages on Earth is dizzying in their array and divergence.

Half of All Languages Come from One Root Language. How it Spread Is Something of Debate

What’s more intriguing, is that about half of them spoken today by some three billion people, come from a single root language, used thousands of years ago. Hindi, Bengali, Persian, English, German, Spanish, and Greek, all come from the same root, known as Proto-Indo-European (PIE). In total, 400 languages and dialects originate from PIE. German linguist August Schleicher reconstructed its vocabulary back in 1868. Hell’s Half Acre. Hundreds of years ago, the word girl didn’t necessarily mean a female child — in the 14th and 15th centuries, it could refer to a child of either sex.

Hell’s Half Acre

Only later did its meaning become more specific. • Some people think that referring to a former spouse as an ex sounds harsh or disrespectful. So what do you call someone you used to be involved with? • The story behind the real McCoy. Another Major Style Guide Has Accepted Singular ‘They’ Singular they, or the use of the pronoun they to refer to one person, has been around for centuries.

Another Major Style Guide Has Accepted Singular ‘They’

Both Chaucer and Shakespeare used it. It’s in the King James Bible. But since the early days of English grammar textbooks in the 19th century, it has been considered a mistake. For over 100 years, students have been urged to re-write sentences like “Everyone has their own ideas” with a singular pronoun: “Everyone has his own ideas.” The problem with that fix is that it necessitates a decision on gender. Some Theories On Trump's Misuse Of Quotation Marks. Definition of Dragooned by Merriam-Webster. Untitled.

— from Moyers & Company Once upon a time, there were presidents for whom English seemed their native language.


Barack Obama most recently. 11 Words Coined 100 Years Ago. On September 9, 1917, a British naval officer named John Arbuthnot Fisher wrote a letter to Winston Churchill, who at that time was serving as Minister of Munitions in the British government.

11 Words Coined 100 Years Ago

Lord Fisher had been First Sea Lord in the British Navy at the outset of the First World War, but had resigned in 1915 amidst growing frustration over Churchill’s handling of the Gallipoli Campaign. Frustrated once more with the ongoing events of the war, he wrote: What can linguistics tell us about the Vikings in England? Settlement names listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 CE reveals linguistic evidence of Viking settlements, recorded a couple of centuries after Scandinavians began to settle in England (Photo: Andrew Barclay / Flickr) Recent articles discussing the Scandinavian input into the genetic make-up of the English population have reignited a debate about the number of Scandinavians who settled in England in the late ninth and early tenth centuries.

What can linguistics tell us about the Vikings in England?

The most recent article published in the scientific journal Antiquity reported that up to 35,000 Danish Vikings could have settled England during this time—much higher than DNA evidence suggests. One important piece of evidence that supports such high numbers of Scandinavians settlers is the great impact they had on the English language and in particular on place and personal names. However, separating the difference between Danish and Norwegian influence is often difficult. Read More: New study reignites debate over Viking settlements in England. Culture - What overusing exclamation marks says about you. There is really only one rule when it comes to the exclamation mark: don’t use it.

Culture - What overusing exclamation marks says about you

This is an exaggeration of course! In fact, rare usage is the point: the Chicago Manual of Style says the exclamation mark ‘should be used sparingly to be effective.’ The 45th President of the United States does not use the exclamation mark sparingly. In the Oval Office, exclamation points (the US term) are being issued more frequently than executive orders. How Did "Jones" Come to Mean "Craving"? Have you ever had a "Love Jones," or even a "Basketball Jones"?

How Did "Jones" Come to Mean "Craving"?

Do you occasionally jones for a “hot now” Krispy Kreme donut (only to find that store closed)? Did you know that when you use that terminology you are actually indulging in some (gasp) drug slang? Shakesperean Insults Chart. Origin of “Hang a Roscoe” Origin of “Bangs” in “Hair Bangs” To Bat Wings and Eyes. Why is the Passenger Seat Called "Shotgun"?

How To Insult Donald Trump, With Linguistics! Donald Trump may hate his new job and be surprised to find he’s not a dictator, but he is delivering on one campaign promise: innovation.

How To Insult Donald Trump, With Linguistics!

At least in swearing. The embattled new president is something of a muse for political obscenity. Consider the curious case of shit-gibbon, chronicled by linguist par excellence Ben Zimmer, in a new post at Strong Language, a sweary blog about swearing. The expletive exploded this week thanks to Pennsylvania state senator Daylin Leach. A brief history of Polari: the curious after-life of the dead language for gay men.

In early February, the Church of England College expressed regret that in an evening liturgy in Cambridge, God was referred to as the Duchess. The service had been advertised as a Polari evening prayer in anticipation of LGBT History Month, and was described as a liturgical experiment. So what was Polari and how did it end up in an evening prayer? Polari is a secret language, which has now largely fallen out of use, but was historically spoken by gay men and female impersonators. 10+ Hilarious Reasons Why The German Language Is The Worst. How the 'Cash Me Ousside, Howbow Dah' Meme Became the Internet's Favorite Threat.

Let's say somebody looked at you the wrong way. Or maybe your debit card betrayed you by declining your single-item transaction. Or perhaps you're a street-smart teenager on The Dr. Phil Show getting sassed by an audience of know-it-all older women. Flee Fly Flo. Wrapping up 2016 with words from the past year and some newsy limericks. Bigly and Brexit were on lots of lips this year, as well as an increasingly popular Danish word that means “cozy.” Also, Quiz Guy John Chaneski sums up the year in newsy limericks about movies, science, and the Nobel Prize. Finally, an old term takes on new currency: To gaslight someone means to make them doubt their own perceptions. 10 Words and Phrases With Offensive Histories (language, words, phrases, pc, offensive, ) Poll results: fount or font of knowledge? Slang — language at its most human. Slang is probably as old as human language, though the first slang dictionaries only started popping up in the 16th century.

Capital - Native English speakers are the world’s worst communicators. Theconversation. British prime minister Theresa May notoriously kept quiet about her position on membership of the EU ahead of the June referendum, avoiding coming down on either side of the debate. A Way with Words. Sexmonster, and other German words for Trump. 4 Changes to English So Subtle We Hardly Notice They're Happening. What does HOMEBOY mean? - HOMEBOY Definition - Meaning of HOMEBOY. Linguist George Lakoff: Pay close attention — Trump means exactly what he says. 11 Rare Old Words for the Heinous and Villainous. Whether you’re watching a movie or reading the news, it’s hard to avoid villainous, heinous, wicked behavior—but we all could use a few new words for the diabolical.

A Way with Words. Only 4% of Languages Are Used Online. A Way with Words. Orthography - "Smooths" versus "Smoothes" A Way with Words. Who is the Fat Lady, and Why is It Over When She Sings? What is a Tarnation? You Bet Your Boots. Future - The two word games that trick almost everyone. Future - The secret “anti-languages” you’re not supposed to know. The Forgotten Secret Language of Gay Men. Busker. Ghosting. A Way with Words. Harvard Linguist Identifies These 50 Commonly Misused Words. 24 Old English Terms You Should Start Using Again. 17 Examples of British Slang That Are Simply Awesome.

17 Polish Words and Phrases We Cannot Simply Translate. Etymology gleanings for February 2016. Lifehack. A Dive Into Jazz Slang (You Dig?) The Story of the Umlaut. Etymology of Poormouthing. A Way with Words. Should You Literally Pick the Low-Hanging Fruit? What does FML mean? - FML Definition - Meaning of FML. Merde, mystique de la – Biblioklept. If You Can't Say 'Yes,' Don't Say Anything At All. How the language you speak changes your view of the world. Irony & Sarcasm marks, part 1 of 3. How to convey sarcasm in written texts and emails, according to psychologists, whoop-de-doo. Ellipses: Why so common? What are they really for? What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?