Derek Bentley

Sentenced to Death (and Other Tales from the Dark Side of Language)

One cold morning in 1953, Derek Bentley, a nineteen-year-old youth in the wrong place with the wrong words, was hanged for a murder he did not commit.
Woman thinking

The Science of Thingummyjigs (and Other Words on the Tip of Your Tongue)

What is actually happening when you can't think of the word you mean? It's called Tip of the Tongue syndrome and yes, it's been studied.
gift or poison

Friend or Faux? The Linguistic Trickery of False Friends

"False friends" appear or sound like words in their own language, but have different meanings in others. They give us insight into how language changes.
young women talking

The Totally “Destructive” (Yet Oddly Instructive) Speech Patterns of… Young Women?

Two years ago, this column sprang into life by enthusiastically wading into the absurdly long-running debate about some ...
talk therapy

When Language Can Cure What Ails You

Healthy talk is often promoted as the way for us to become even better humans. But is talking about our health always a key to actual better health?
Dr. Evil

Very British Villains (and Other Anglo-Saxon Attitudes to Accents)

What do peoples' accents really reveal about them? The villainous British accent crystallizes the love-hate special relationship between the US and the UK.
Copenhagen

The Cozy Linguistics of Hygge and Other “Untranslatable” Words

Why English speakers love "hygge" and other "untranslatable" words about emotional states.
Double exposure image of woman, imagination concept

Synesthetic Adjectives Will Make You Eat Your Words

Fragrant. Sweet. Tangy. Certain synesthetic adjectives actually trigger cognitive simulations of eating.
Nasty Woman Mug

Bad Language for Nasty Women (and Other Gendered Insults)

Is it true that "nasty" is more likely to be applied to describe women than men?
Fresh vegetables salad on wooden table

The Nitty-Gritty on Reduplication: So Good, You Have to Say it Twice.

Reduplication is a widespread linguistic process in which a part or an exact copy of a word is repeated, often for morphological or syntactic reasons (but not always).