Reading on-screen versus on paper

If over the holidays you received a book, was it digital or printed on paper? E-books (and devices on which to read them) are multiplying like rabbits, as are the numbers of eReading devotees. It’s
If over the holidays you received a book, was it digital or printed on paper? E-books (and devices on which to read them) are multiplying like rabbits, as are the numbers of eReading devotees. It’s [More]

Celebrating linguistic diversity on International Mother Language Day

It’s Thursday evening in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. I am late for an appointment to see my friend Shimanto (lit. boundary [Sanskrit]). On the street I shout ‘ei mama jaben?' (Hey uncle, will
It’s Thursday evening in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. I am late for an appointment to see my friend Shimanto (lit. boundary [Sanskrit]). On the street I shout ‘ei mama jaben?' (Hey uncle, will [More]

Monthly etymology gleanings for February 2015

One month is unlike another. Sometimes I receive many letters and many comments; then lean months may follow. February produced a good harvest (“February fill the dyke,” as they used to say), and I
One month is unlike another. Sometimes I receive many letters and many comments; then lean months may follow. February produced a good harvest (“February fill the dyke,” as they used to say), and I [More]

Clarity about ‘the gay thing’

Sometimes, we say what we don’t really mean. ‘You look really tired’, for example, when we mean to be caring rather than disparaging of appearance. ‘I thought you were older than that!’ when we mean
Sometimes, we say what we don’t really mean. ‘You look really tired’, for example, when we mean to be caring rather than disparaging of appearance. ‘I thought you were older than that!’ when we mean [More]

Lies, truth, and meaning

Words have meaning. We use them to communicate to one another, and what we communicate depends, in part, on which words we use. What words mean varies from language to language. In many cases, we
Words have meaning. We use them to communicate to one another, and what we communicate depends, in part, on which words we use. What words mean varies from language to language. In many cases, we [More]

May the Fourth be with you!

May the Fourth be with you! Playing off a pun on one of the movie’s most famous quotes, May the 4th is the unofficial holiday in which Star Wars fans across the globe celebrate the beloved
May the Fourth be with you! Playing off a pun on one of the movie’s most famous quotes, May the 4th is the unofficial holiday in which Star Wars fans across the globe celebrate the beloved [More]

Changing languages

In the literature on language death and language renewal, two cases come up again and again: Irish and Hebrew. Mention of the former language is usually attended by a whiff of disapproval. It was
In the literature on language death and language renewal, two cases come up again and again: Irish and Hebrew. Mention of the former language is usually attended by a whiff of disapproval. It was [More]

Language of World Bank Reports

What can be gleaned from a linguistic analysis of World Bank Reports? That the language – and reality – of global finance grows ever more opaque…
What can be gleaned from a linguistic analysis of World Bank Reports? That the language – and reality – of global finance grows ever more opaque… [More]

Landmarks

Bumbelling. Dooking. Jabblin. Puddling. Skite. Squashle: Robert Macfarlane has retrieved a lost vocabulary to describe the natural world…
Bumbelling. Dooking. Jabblin. Puddling. Skite. Squashle: Robert Macfarlane has retrieved a lost vocabulary to describe the natural world… [More]

No language instinct

How humanity learned to speak. A language organ? No. A language instinct? No. Our need to cooperate was what paved the way…
How humanity learned to speak. A language organ? No. A language instinct? No. Our need to cooperate was what paved the way… [More]