itsnarin

371 Flips | 1 Magazine | 5 Likes | 4 Following | 1,610 Followers | @itsnarin | Australian English teacher in Osaka, Japan. Names and words related to menu items counts as an area of expertise, right?

‘Like’ is an infix now, which is un-like-believably innovative

<i>Like</i> has undergone radical developments in modern English. It can function as a hedge (‘I’ll be there in like an hour’), a discourse particle (‘This …

Language

Can you lose your native language?

It’s possible to forget your first language, even as an adult. But how, and why, this happens is complex and counter-intuitive.<p>I’m sitting in my kitchen in London, trying to figure out a text message from my brother. He lives in our home country of Germany. We speak German to each other, a language …

Language

'Restive': A Word That Won't Sit Still

Sometimes a word will change meaning in a glamorous fashion, as when a famous writer grabs it by the scruff of its neck, shakes it a few times, and …

Vocabulary

Dyslexia has a language barrier

Alan's parents are English, but he was born and grew up in Japan. He would pass as a native speaker of either language. What brought Alan to the notice of Taeko Wydell, an expert on Japanese reading, and Brian Butterworth, was that he was severely dyslexic, but only in one language. In the other, …

Language Learning

The Mexican art of double entendre

Writer Susannah Rigg discovers the hard way that Mexico’s albur, or wordplay, is not easy for foreigners to master.<p>As a Brit living in Mexico, I’ve discovered that many people are intrigued by whether or not I eat spicy food. I once had an entire conversation with a waiter in which he asked me …

Language

Terribly sorry – but Britain’s famed politeness may be a myth

In 2015, Simeon Floyd, then of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, gave a lecture in Antwerp about expressions of gratitude in eight cultures around the world. I was lucky enough to be there, and have been thinking ever since about the videos he showed. In one, a Cha’palaa speaker in …

Language

What Is a Malapropism? Definition and Examples

These funny (and common) errors lead to muddled meanings and plenty of laughs<p>The term <b>malapropism</b> refers to the incorrect use of a word in place of a …

William Shakespeare

Twelve obscure words with delightful meanings

Paul Anthony Jones collects terms that have fallen out of use and resurrects them. We’ve featured 12 of our favourites in a new animation celebrating forgotten phrases.<p>“I love finding words that are just beautiful as well as strange,” says self-confessed ‘word geek’ Paul Anthony Jones. …

Animation

Evolution of the English Alphabet

Matt Baker, the creater of the Evolution of the English Alphabet chart, traced the English alphabet all the way back to Proto-Sinaitic in 1750 BCE. …

Linguistics

25 Foreign Words With Hilarious Literal Meanings

Anyone who has ever studied a foreign language knows that translator apps, while helpful, aren’t always reliable. It's easy to tell when text has …

To Brits with knickers in a twist over Americanisms: don't get your panties in a bunch

To those dedicated warriors hunched over their keyboards or gripping their pens, ready to fire off an angry salvo about the Americanization of British English to their favorite newspaper, television channel or book publisher, linguist Lynne Murphy has a solemn warning: check a good dictionary first.<p>…

Language

Millennials destroyed the rules of written English – and created something better

The spelling and grammar rules do not apply on the Millennial Internet™.<p>That's because millennials have created a new rulebook for a variant of …

Switzerland’s invisible linguistic borders

Multilingualism is to Switzerland what politeness is to the British or style to the Italians: a deep source of national pride.<p>It was one of the shortest train rides I had ever taken: just 10 minutes and one stop from the Swiss city of Neuchâtel. Yet when I disembarked in the small municipality of …

Language

Why we call it 'spring:' The etymology of the seasons.

Why do we call the first season of the calendar year — when plants first begin to bud and bloom — spring?<p>Beginning in the late 14th century, spring …

Everything You Need to Know About English and Other Languages

What's in a word? A lot! John Green and friends are here with some incredible facts about language—English and otherwise—in this episode of</i> …

Language

Sly Fox, Fat Cat: Animal Names for People : Chicken

Biologically, of course, human beings are animals. The definition of <i>human</i> uses the term <i>mammal</i>; the definition of <i>mammal</i> uses <i>vertebrate</i>; the definition …

Linguistics

The surprising origins of your f*cking favorite swear words

As a society, we like to swear.<p>Swear words have a strange power over us. It starts when we are young, when they are deliciously taboo. Then, as we …

Linguistics

11 Weird and Interesting Words in English

How Many Do You Know?<p>Word lovers and Scrabble players alike often seek out and celebrate weird and interesting words, challenging themselves to …

Linguistics

Language and How You Speak Can Indicate Your Mental Health

We're saying more than just words when we speak.<p>How a person talks can tell you a lot about them, like where they're from and or even their age. But new research shows how we speak might say something about our mental health.<p>According to research from the University of Reading, speech patterns …

'Get yer hand off it, mate': Why Australian slang is not dying

The Australian attachment to slanguage (slang language) goes back to the earliest settlements of English speakers in Australia.<p>As Edward Gibbon …

Why Menu Translations Go Terribly Wrong

Toward a grand unified theory of hilarious and odd foreign-language menus.<p>When I first came to Paris, I was confronted with a strange problem: I …

A linguist explains why it's okay to say "um" and "uh"

In a study of how people talk in English, the linguist Mark Liberman analyzed a massive database of spoken language and found that one in every sixty words people pronounce is either <i>um</i> or <i>uh.</i> Depending on how fast you talk, this means you are producing two to three of these ‘fillers’ per minute.<p>Why …

Why Do Cartoon Villains Speak in Foreign Accents?

Children’s shows often use non-standard dialects to voice the "bad guys," sending a dangerous message to kids about diversity.<p><i>This is the first installment in an ongoing series examining kids’ worldviews and how they are shaped.</i><p>When the sociolinguist Calvin Gidney saw <i>The Lion King</i> in theaters two …

Swearing, Using Foul Language May Be A Sign Of Honesty

People who tend to swear more could be more honest and trustworthy with their opinions and ideas, a new study has shown.<p>An international team of …

There’s a reason using a period in a text message makes you sound angry

When it comes to texting, the period gets a lot of attention.<p>People have begun noticing slight changes to the way our smallest punctuation mark is deployed, from declarations that it’s going out of style to claims that it’s becoming angry.<p>What they’re actually noticing is written language becoming …

6 Grammar Lessons Hidden in Christmas Songs

Understand the grammar in your favorite carols.<p>1. Round yon virgin<p>The “round” in “Silent Night” might call up imagery of the soft, maternal kind, but …

Cream Cheese

4 Subtle Changes to English People Hardly Notice

Everyone knows that language changes. It's easy to pick out words that have only been recently introduced (bromance, YOLO, derp) or sentence …

Language