Science has spoken: ending a text with a full stop makes you a monster

Ending your text messages with a full stop, science has confirmed, is against God and against nature. A Binghamton University research team found that text messages ending in the most final of punctuation marks – eg “lol.”, “let’s go to Nando’s.”, “send nudes.” – are perceived as being less sincere Read the full story here

Why the Words for ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages

Is there anything inherently “doggy” about the word “dog”? Obviously not — to the French, a dog is a chien, to Russians a sobaka, to Mandarin Chinese-speakers a gǒu. These words have nothing in common, and none seem any more connected to the canine essence than any other. One runs up against that wall with […]

Introducing Albus Silente: Harry Potter in translation

The wizarding world changes yet again when you cast an eye over the Italian translation. Albus Dumbledore inexplicably becomes Albus Silente, despite the fact that almost all the other language versions keep his original name. The French, German and the Finnish are all perfectly content with Dumbledore; not surprisingly, considering it takes its etymological roots […]

The red-hot history of the word ‘brand’

“Identity” and “reputation” are Latin – worthy but a little stuffy. Brand is English and hits the spot for both meanings with its sense of a mark burned on someone or something. Since Anglo-Saxon times it has meant first “fire” and then a stick or other article lit from a fire. Wycliffe’s Bible translation of […]

Mapping the United Swears of America – Strong Language

Hell, damn and bitch are especially popular in the south and southeast. Douche is relatively common in northern states. Bastard is beloved in Maine and New Hampshire, and those states – together with a band across southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas – are the areas of particular motherfucker favour. Crap is more popular inland, […]

Metaphor map charts the images that structure our thinking

The Map also uncovers some revealing metaphorical clusters, such as the number of links between textiles and social structure. We describe social networks in terms of weaving and spinning; something is defined as “tweedy” if it is rustic, or “chintzy” if petit bourgeois. Textiles also influence the way that we talk about imagination: we “spin […]

Hashtag named UK children’s word of the year #important

#interesting? #greatnews? #aaaaaaaargh? Regardless of your opinion, there is no getting away from the ubiquity of hashtag – today named children’s word of the year. An annual analysis of Radio 2’s 500 Words short story competition reveals the huge increase in the creative use of the word among the under-13s, with hashtag moving from being […]

A quick guide to speaking Franglais

Of course, this is not to say it is a linguistic one-way street – English has in fact historically adopted many words from the French language. Today, however, French speakers seem to use the nifty formula of adding ‘ing’ to an English word for coining terms for many new concepts and products. “Le brushing” for […]