The history of why Q is almost always followed by U is fascinating, and dates back to when the Normans invaded England in 1066. Before that, English didn’t even have a Q; it used “cw” to replicate the sound. After the invasion, though, the spelling of English was changed to match the French ways: “cw” was replaced…
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…
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…
Sometimes, you’re typing when you get to a word that you cannot, for the life of you, spell. That’s when you turn to Google, counting on the Internet to correct your spelling. Vocativ used Google Trends to pinpoint each American state’s most googled word.
You hear the phrase all the time when you’re working with computers, especially on customer service calls: “Please reboot your computer.” Why do we use the word reboot to mean “turn it off and on again”? It all goes back to tech history — and to one of the most revolutionary aspects of these computing machines.
We use words to tell stories, but words often have their own stories behind them that can be just as interesting as anything we can come up with. Today, we want to know about the word with the best story behind it.
A new Chinese character, "duang," has gone viral. Nobody's sure what it actually means, but Jackie Chan has everything to do with it.
OK has been traced to a 19th century Boston Morning Post article where a writer was satirizing the "new" craze of abbreviations. The more things change, the more they stay the same, I guess.
Languages constantly shed old words and pick up new ones as their needs change, but sometimes — like in the case of deciding what a penguin should be called in French — a language will do both.
Every year a handful of new words make it into the dictionary, but how do they get there and who chooses them? Kory Stamper, a lexicographer for Merriam Webster, explains to us just how our dictionaries get made.
Kory Stamper is a lexicographer over at Merriam-Webster, publishers of dictionaries and thesauruses. She's here today to answer all our questions about how we use language, from 11 - noon (Pacific time).
Voldemort. Professor Moriarty. Doctor Moreau. Mordred. The Morlocks. Aside from being nefarious figures, these characters have something in common: the syllable "mor." Is there something that makes that particular sound come off as evil to English-fluent ears?
Languages are evolving, living things, a fact that this graphic that charts just which languages English has been taking its loanwords from over time makes clear.
Researchers at Dartmouth have analyzed over 180 million tweets from 900,000 users in the United States — and they've come up with a list of the new abbreviated words that spread on Twitter.
The Oxford English Dictionary has a fun little web toy that lets you see a word that was first used during the year of your birth. What's your birthday word?
Put away your brackets, folks. The Oxford English Dictionary has declared its one word to rule them all this year, and that word is selfie, whose usage rose over 17,000% in the last year alone.
The folks over at Language Log are calling the word tuhao (definition: bling) "the hottest term on the Chinese internet these days." Today, we want to know your favorite new words spawned by the internet. Is the word you need not yet flying all over the interwebs? Then now is exactly the right time to propose it.