Why Some Words May Be More Memorable Than Others

Thousands of words, big and small, are crammed inside our memory banks just waiting to be swiftly withdrawn and strung into sentences. In a recent study of epilepsy patients and healthy volunteers, National Institutes of Health researchers found that our brains may withdraw some common words, like “pig,” “tank,” and “door,” much more often than [...]

By |2020-08-09T11:47:29+00:00July 6th, 2020|Language, Words|0 Comments

Why words make language

From hieroglyphics to emojis, and grunts to gestures, humans have always used multiple modes to communicate, including language. If you've ever sent a text using emojis, which the recipient received and understood, then you've communicated in a new language code. Communication codes have been with us since the grunts of our ancestors developed in to [...]

By |2019-11-12T18:25:57+00:00November 12th, 2019|Language, Words|0 Comments

Here’s How Words Get Removed from the Dictionary

The dictionary isn’t forever. Here’s the lowdown on what happens to a word when its popularity starts to wane. You can’t call someone a frutescent snollygoster anymore—at least not officially. Those words have been deleted from the dictionary, so you’ll have to come up with alternate terms to describe a shrubby, unscrupulous politician. And those [...]

By |2019-10-17T17:13:28+00:00October 17th, 2019|Dictionaries and Lexicography, Language, Words|0 Comments

‘Untranslatable’ words tell us more about English speakers than other cultures

When the word “hygge” became popular outside Denmark a few years ago, it seemed the perfect way to express the feeling of wrapping yourself up in a crocheted blanket with a cosy jumper, a cup of tea and back-to-back episodes of The Bridge. But is it really only the Danes, with their cold Scandinavian evenings, [...]

By |2018-08-10T10:38:41+00:00August 10th, 2018|English language, Translation, Words|0 Comments

The words that change what colours we see

The human eye can physically perceive millions of colours. But we don’t all recognise these colours in the same way. Some people can’t see differences in colours – so called colour blindness – due to a defect or absence of the cells in the retina that are sensitive to high levels of light: the cones. [...]

By |2018-04-24T12:29:49+00:00April 24th, 2018|Language, Uncategorized, Words|0 Comments

Do words get removed from a dictionary when people stop using them?

The Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary is generally regarded as the single most comprehensive record of the English language to exist. Included in this work are many thousands of words considered completely “obsolete” by lexicographers. You see, in something of a Hotel California of linguistics, once a word has made it into the [...]

By |2018-04-23T11:41:07+00:00April 23rd, 2018|Dictionary, Lexicography, Words|0 Comments

The Time the Oxford English Dictionary Forgot a Word

When the complete edition of what would become the Oxford English Dictionary debuted in 1928, it was lauded as a comprehensive collection of the English language, a glossary so vast—and so thorough—that no other reference book could ever exceed its detail or depth. In total, the project took seven decades to catalogue everything from A [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:27:05+00:00February 14th, 2018|Dictionary, Language, OED, Words|0 Comments

The Japanese words for “space” could change your view of the world

When you are the first person to arrive in a meeting room, do you think of it as being empty or full? If you were raised in the West, a meeting room is made for people to meet. Therefore, if there are no people in that room, then of course it must be empty. As [...]

By |2018-02-22T00:27:06+00:00January 22nd, 2018|Japanese language, Language, Words|0 Comments

The world’s smallest language has only 100 words — and you can say almost anything

In Chinese, the word computer translates directly as electric brain. In Icelandic, a compass is a direction-shower, and a microscope a small-watcher. In Lakota, horse is literally dog of wonder. These neologisms demonstrate the cumulative quality of language, in which we use the known to describe the unknown. “It is by metaphor that language grows,” [...]

By |2017-11-28T12:47:41+00:00November 28th, 2017|Language, Toki Pona, Words|0 Comments

Robert Macfarlane on the enchanted childhood words technology has disrupted

In 2015, a published version of the first chapter in Robert Macfarlane's last book, Landmarks, went viral. In it, the nature writer and academic talked about the deep, historic connections between language and landscape and mourned the loss of certain everyday words from the 2007 edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Acorn, bluebell, conker: all [...]

By |2017-10-06T21:39:19+00:00October 7th, 2017|Language, Nature, Robert Macfarlane, Words|0 Comments