The lesson, as always, is that we’re dumb. All of us. Even the smartest among us can never save us because we’re all so dumb. Why? Because when we hear the wrong words, we don’t bother to fix ourselves but instead adopt those wrong words into our language even though they’re clearly wrong. It’s great! Language is…
By now you probably know that the emoji you send on an iPhone might not be the emoji that is received on a Nexus. Since emoji are designed differently across platforms, sometimes your text messages might get lost in translation. But how differently might your well-intentioned emoji be displayed? The reality might…
While investigating non-English words associated with positive emotions and concepts, a British researcher recently discovered 216 foreign words for which there is no English translation.
Koko, the gorilla who uses sign language, is capable of discussing almost anything that human beings might want to see Koko discuss. If you enjoyed the video that’s going around the internet in which Koko shares her thoughts on the global climate-change summit, you’ll definitely be wowed by her review of Star Wars…
The English language is a voracious eater, consuming words and digesting them into whole new things. Sometimes words that used to be trademarked by companies pass into generic use—like escalator, thermos, and aspirin. And sometimes words live in limbo: still trademarked, but used all the time as generic terms. Here…
Imagine the day when we finally receive a signal from an extraterrestrial intelligence, only to find that there’s a message embedded within. Given that we don’t speak the same language, how could we ever hope to make sense of it? We spoke to the experts to find out.
“Dude” has become a remarkably versatile word that can be used to describe a variety of people or express a whole host of emotions. But when “dude” first arrived on the linguistic scene, it meant something very specific. This video traces the history of “dude” from a word to describe 19th-century hipsters to its many…
How do politicians win public approval? According to research published in this week’s issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, words uttered in Congress that are suggestive of kindness may have a significant impact on poll numbers.
How and did we start using "no" to mean "yes" — as "No, totally" or "No, exactly"? Kathryn Schultz at The New Yorker takes a deep dive into the linguistics of "Yes" and "No" and how English kept them and ditched their more precise brethren. [The New Yorker]
Lately, it seems that there are few words in the English language that stir up as much semantic ire as "literally" does. As more and more people have been using "literally" to mean "really," some English speakers fret that the meaning of the word will change. But the truth is that it would hardly be the first.
A new Chinese character, "duang," has gone viral. Nobody's sure what it actually means, but Jackie Chan has everything to do with it.
Even when two places share a language, there are always at least a few expressions that only exist within an individual region. Today we want to know about the words, phrases, and alternate meanings that are specific to where you are.
Referring to a single person who may be of any gender in English can be tricky. It can be awkward to use words like "one" or phrases like "he or she," and many a grammarian hates using "they" as to refer to a single person. How has English gotten this far without such a convenient pronoun? Actually, it hasn't.
As a linguistic phrase, OK is something of a phenomenon, traveling from American English into hundreds of other languages. And there are tons of myths about how OK emerged to mean that things are hunky-dory. But which story is correct? The truth is a little bit goofy.
Science fiction used to sometimes suggest that, as broadcast took over, we would hear less and less distinction in accents. Today though, there is of course not just one "American accent" but several, and regional accents continue to thrive and spread. Why is that and what can we expect to sound like in the future?