Commencement vocab visualization

The Delightful Language of Commencement

Commencement speeches have inspired, motivated and captivated many. Just what makes the words found in them so wonderful and life-affirming? 
Mr. Bumble, full-length, standing, facing left, pointing with right hand. Illus. in: The Characters of Charles Dickens pourtrayed (sic) in a series of original water colour sketches by "Kyd", color lithograph, Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, ca. 1899.

Charles Dickens and the Linguistic Art of the Minor Character

Charles Dickens' characters are famous for their elaborate, often hilarious names. Even for bit parts, Dickens' naming conventions were linguistically rich.
A tray of pigs in a blanket.

Putting Words in Your Mouth: The Whimsical Language of Food

Many whimsically named regional foods focus instead on telling a story that often sounds neither delicious nor sophisticated. How do such odd names stick?
McCain giving an interview to the press on April 24, 1973, after his return from Vietnam. Photo by US News and World Report.

Language Loss in a Time of War

War happens when words no longer work. Yet war is declared at the very point when words are at their most powerful. Chi Luu examines language loss in war.
Violette Personified NYPL Collections

Personification Is Your Friend: The Language of Inanimate Objects

So it entirely slipped my mind that Lingua Obscura recently turned one (yay!) and is now a veritable ...

Do You Even Language, Bro? Understanding Why Nouns Become Verbs

Understanding the phenomenon known as "verbing"--where nouns are turned into verbs. 

The Linguistics of Mass Persuasion Part 2: Choose Your Own Adventure

How politicians use language to manipulate the public and sway them toward particular world-views. 
Stop trying to make fetch happen

The Linguistics of Mass Persuasion: How Politicians Make “Fetch” Happen (Part I)

Inspired by the Gretchen famous line in the film Mean Girls, Chi Luu explores how politicians mobilize language to sway public opinion.
Flag of the Klingon Empire

Why We Love to Learn Klingon: The Art of Constructed Languages

Constructed languages like Klingon excite us because they enable us to actively participate in foreign or "alien" cultures. 
The word of the year, face with tears of joy emoji.

Can an Emoji Ever Be a Word?

You might be forgiven for thinking that the merry band of lexicographers at Oxford Dictionaries were trolling us ...