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20 words that once meant something very different

20 words that once meant something very different
Words change meaning over time in ways that might surprise you. We sometimes notice words changing meaning under our noses (e.g., unique coming to mean “very unusual” rather than “one of a kind”) — and it can be disconcerting. How in the world are we all going to communicate effectively if we allow words to shift in meaning like that? The good news: History tells us that we’ll be fine. Words have been changing meaning — sometimes radically — as long as there have been words and speakers to speak them. Here is just a small sampling of words you may not have realized didn’t always mean what they mean today. Nice: This word used to mean “silly, foolish, simple.” We’re human. Watch Anne Curzan’s TED Talk to find out what makes a word “real”.

http://ideas.ted.com/20-words-that-once-meant-something-very-different/

Related:  Languagewords, linguistics, semantics and semioticsEnglish Language- A LevelMayDay Reveue

The World's Most Spoken Languages And Where They Are Spoken This beautifully illustrated infographic (above), designed by South China Morning Post’s graphics director Alberto Lucas Lopéz, shows the most spoken known languages in the world and where they’re spoken by the 6.3 billion people included in the study. Based on records collated from the database Ethnologue, the infographic illustrates the wide-ranging facts and figures of the world’s living languages catalogued since 1951. “There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother tongue for more than 50 million people.

Babies prefer the sounds of other babies to the cooing of their parents We know that babies prefer the high-pitched sounds produced by their caregivers in “babytalk” over regular speech, but a new study provides an exciting new perspective. At five months of age, it seems that babies prefer to listen to the sounds of their peers to the cooing of their mother. Researchers at the University of Quebec tested babies on their preference for different speakers by using a specialised speech synthesizer. The secret “anti-languages” you’re not supposed to know - BBC Future Montgomery thinks we can see a similar process in the lyrics of hip-hop music. As with the other anti-languages, you can witness the blossoming of words for the illegal activities that might accompany gang culture. “There are so many words for firearm, for different kinds of drug, for money,” says Montgomery, who is based at the University of Macau. The police, for instance, are variously known as “berry”, “elroys”, and “Penelope”; crack cocaine can be known as “German chocolate cake”, “hubba” or “a slab”. Again, the imaginitive terms lend themselve to artistic use.

A 3D Map Of The Brain Shows How We Understand Language <img src="<a pearltreesdevid="PTD2167" rel="nofollow" href=" class="vglnk"><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2168">http</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2170">://</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2172">pixel</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2174">.</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2176">quantserve</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2178">.</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2180">com</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2182">/</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2184">pixel</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2186">/</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2188">p</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2190">-</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2192">cafODhhaQOlCs</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2194">.</span><span pearltreesdevid="PTD2196">gif</span></a>" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="Quantcast" /> None

The case of the missing “u”s in American English Before you consciously became aware of your decision to read this article, your brain was already making the necessary preparations to click the link. There are a few crucial milliseconds between the moment when you’re consciously aware of a plan to act, and the moment you take action. This brief window is thought by some scientists to be the moment in time when we can exercise free will. It gives us the chance to consciously make a decision, suggesting we aren’t just slaves to our impulses.

Yanny or Laurel? It's your brain not your ears that decides As a speech scientist, I never thought I’d see so much excitement on social media about one tiny little word. The clip, which went viral after being posted on Reddit, is polarizing listeners who hear a computer voice say either “Laurel” or “Yanny.” @AlexWelke tweeted, “This is the kinda stuff that starts wars.” While I can’t prevent a war, I can explain some reasons why this sound file has created such a controversy.

Internecine - Language errors of the rich and famous We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. —Preamble to the United States Constitution, 1787 Most of us, whether we realize it or not, have been taught something of absolute adjectives. These are words which permit no variation of degree; something either is this adjective, or it is not, and there is no wiggle room. The subject has been given considerable attention over the years, as people who care very much about the state of our language have come to the defense of words such as perfect, unique, and supreme, on the grounds that they should not be modified. Yet many writers over the years, including the authors of the United States Constitution, have seen fit to fudge many of these absolute adjectives.

139 Old Norse Words That Invaded The English Language When I say “Old English” what comes to mind? The ornate, hard-to-read script? Reading Beowulf in your high school English class? The kinds of figurative compound nouns – or kennings – like “swan of blood” and “slaughter-dew” that have sustained heavy metal lyrics for decades? Old English, also known as Anglo-Saxon, was a language spoken by the Angles and the Saxons – the first Germanic tribes to settle the British Isles. They were not the first inhabitants, as any Welsh or Gaelic speaker will tell you, but their language did form the basis for the Angle-ish we speak today.

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