Chris Scarborough

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15 Neologisms From 'That Should Be a Word'

Lexicographer and young adult novelist Lizzie Skurnick creates words for the modern age. Her new book, <i>That Should be a Word</i>, is a collection of 250 …

Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?

By Anthea Butler<p>Police are investigating the fatal shooting of nine African Americans at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., as a hate crime committed by a white man. Unfortunately, it’s not a unique event in American history. Black churches have long been targets of white supremacists who …

Why We Speak

An evolutionary biologist argues that humans started talking because they needed to negotiate.<p>Sometime around 120,000 years ago in the desert near Oued Djebbana, in what is modern-day northern Algeria, a human acquired some small seashells. The shells were from a species known as <i>Nassarius</i> …

Hunter Gatherers

Meh, cisgender, jeggings, and other new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary

Also: Photobomb, crowdfund, totes, sext, and nearly 500 more.<p>From the OED's "New words notes June 2015":<p>English has expanded its vocabulary in recent …

“You want me to take f**king out of the Scrabble dictionary?”

<b>(cvalle via Shutterstock/Salon)</b><p>My boss needed me to take all the offensive words out of the Scrabble dictionary. What an impossible, sh**ty task<p>John D. Williams Jr.<p>July 5, 2015 6:00pm (UTC)<p>Excerpted from “Word Nerd: Dispatches From the Games, Grammar and Geek Underground”<p>In the early 1990s, two …

7 Words That Came About from People Getting Them Wrong

People didn't always say "pea" or "newt." These seven words initially started as other words entirely.<p>1. Pea<p>Originally the word was "pease," and it …

Siblings

15 Pairs of Words That Seem Etymologically Related, But Aren’t

A crayfish is not a fish, an outrage is not a rage, and there’s no bomb in bombast. Words suggest one thing, but their histories tell us another.<p>1. …

What’s the Difference Between In- and Un-?

English has two different prefixes that make a word into its opposite. OK, yes, there are more than two (dis-, a-, anti-, de-, etc.), but in- and un- …

Linguistics

Strangers Learned Sign Language To Give Deaf Man A Sense Of Belonging

A man who has a hearing impairment was able to enjoy a day free from obstacles, in the video above.<p>A moving, new advertisement from Samsung features a young man named Muharrem from Istanbul. For one day, Muharrem's world becomes much more accessible.<p>In the video above, people learn sign language …

How Dogs Understand What We Say

Scientists — and anyone who lives with a canine — know that dogs pay close attention to the emotion in our voices. They listen for whether our tone is friendly or mean, how the pitch goes up or down and even the rhythms in our speech.<p>But what about the meaning of the words we say?<p>Sure, a few …

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?" James Hamblin investigates the logic of food names with Arthur Meyer, the co-author of <i>FUDS:</i> <i>A Complete Encyclofoodia from Tickling Shrimp to Not Dying in a Restaurant</i>.<p>We want to hear what you think. Submit a letter to the editor or write …

Celery

What I Learned When I Dated a Deaf Man

Being able to hear is a gift, a gift that many of us take for granted every single day of our lives. I started my online dating phase fresh out of a long-distance relationship with someone who was in the military, and had no plans of ever returning home (he wanted to stay in Europe). Online dating …

Relationships

Stop shaming people on the Internet for grammar mistakes. Its not there fault.

By Andrew Heisel<p>I am a writer, which is why it’s particularly embarrassing that I sometimes type the word “right” when I mean to type “write.” Shouldn’t I know better? Just yesterday, I typed “there” when I meant “their.” And I’ll even admit that I’ve committed the most mocked grammar error on the …

“You’re raising your kids bilingual, right?” Well, no …

<b>(Trish233 via iStock)</b><p>Because my husband is Japanese, it seems like a no-brainer. Sometimes it’s not that simple<p>Janice P. Nimura<p>April 26, 2015 1:30pm (UTC)<p>It comes up all the time. “Your husband is Japanese? And are you raising your children bilingual? What a gift that is.” And I say no, actually, …

Language Learning

Meet the guy trying to turn emoji into a legitimate, usable language

Unless you text with me frequently, the “sentence” above probably makes no sense. That’s because — while many of us tap out these symbols to our family and friends — there are no universal usage rules for emoji: no grammar, no meanings. No syntax.<p>But Fred Benenson, the visionary who gave you “Emoji …

The best idioms from around the world, ranked

<i>The following were sourced from</i> I’m Not Hanging Noodles On Your Ears and Other Intriguing Idioms From Around the World <i>by Jag Bhalla (National Geographic Books, 2009).</i><p>25. Ear-nectar<p>Origin: Indian. Meaning: A sweet noise or sound.<p>24. Can’t stop being the owl.<p>Origin: Italian, French. Meaning: Can’t …

Sausages