Temporal liars

One of the most famous, and most widely discussed, paradoxes is the Liar paradox. The Liar sentence is true if and only if it is false, and thus can be neither (unless it can be both). The variants
One of the most famous, and most widely discussed, paradoxes is the Liar paradox. The Liar sentence is true if and only if it is false, and thus can be neither (unless it can be both). The variants [More]

Beyond words: How language-like is emoji?

The decision by Oxford Dictionaries to select an emoji as the 2015 Word of the Year has led to incredulity in some quarters. Hannah Jane Parkinson, writing in The Guardian, and doubtless speaking
The decision by Oxford Dictionaries to select an emoji as the 2015 Word of the Year has led to incredulity in some quarters. Hannah Jane Parkinson, writing in The Guardian, and doubtless speaking [More]

Shakespeare’s linguistic legacy

William Shakespeare died four hundred years ago this month and my local library is celebrating the anniversary. It sounds a bit macabre when you put it that way, of course, so they are billing it as
William Shakespeare died four hundred years ago this month and my local library is celebrating the anniversary. It sounds a bit macabre when you put it that way, of course, so they are billing it as [More]

Etymology gleanings for March 2016

Preparation for the Spelling Congress is underway. The more people will send in their proposals, the better. On the other hand (or so it seems to me), the fewer people participate in this event and
Preparation for the Spelling Congress is underway. The more people will send in their proposals, the better. On the other hand (or so it seems to me), the fewer people participate in this event and [More]

Is name studies a discipline in its own right?

Name studies have been around for a long time. In Ancient Greece, philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle saw names as central to the understanding of language, providing key insights into
Name studies have been around for a long time. In Ancient Greece, philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle saw names as central to the understanding of language, providing key insights into [More]

Original pronunciation: the state of the art in 2016

In 2004, Shakespeare's Globe in London began a daring experiment. They decided to mount a production of a Shakespeare play in 'original pronunciation' (OP) - a reconstruction of the accents that
In 2004, Shakespeare's Globe in London began a daring experiment. They decided to mount a production of a Shakespeare play in 'original pronunciation' (OP) - a reconstruction of the accents that [More]

The Great Pottery Throw Down and language

The newest knockout competition on British television is The Great Pottery Throw Down (GPTD), in which an initial ten potters produce a variety of ceramic work each week, the most successful being
The newest knockout competition on British television is The Great Pottery Throw Down (GPTD), in which an initial ten potters produce a variety of ceramic work each week, the most successful being [More]

“Vulpes vulpes,” or foxes have holes. Part 1

The idea of today’s post was inspired by a question from a correspondent. She is the author of a book on foxes and wanted more information on the etymology of fox. I answered her but thought that
The idea of today’s post was inspired by a question from a correspondent. She is the author of a book on foxes and wanted more information on the etymology of fox. I answered her but thought that [More]

How to polish your résumé

I’ve read a lot of résumés over the years. I’ve read 35-page résumés from senior academics documenting every Rotary talk, guest lecture, and letter to the editor. I’ve read not-quite-one-page
I’ve read a lot of résumés over the years. I’ve read 35-page résumés from senior academics documenting every Rotary talk, guest lecture, and letter to the editor. I’ve read not-quite-one-page [More]

New frontiers in evolutionary linguistics

Our mother tongues seem to us like the natural way to communicate, but it is perhaps a universal human experience to be confronted and confused by a very different language. We can't help but wonder
Our mother tongues seem to us like the natural way to communicate, but it is perhaps a universal human experience to be confronted and confused by a very different language. We can't help but wonder [More]