compliments

The Uncertain Art of the American Compliment

The way Americans compliment is maximalist and enthusiastic, but it may not always be sincere. Our resident linguist unpacks the language of politeness.
drag queen

The Unspeakable Linguistics of Camp

When gay and lesbian people had to invent their own languages with which to talk with each other, camp led the way.
prison slang

When Prison Time Meant Rhymes

The “gay, frolicsome and amusing" rhymes of 1970s American prison slang.
paragraph book

What a Paragraph Is

On the controversial directive that a paragraph must contain a topic sentence, an idea that theorists, writers, and students have questioned for decades.
Brothers Grimm

The Fairytale Language of the Brothers Grimm

How the Brothers Grimm went hunting for fairytales and accidentally changed the course of historical linguistics and kickstarted a new field of scholarship in folklore.
Loggers slang

The Lost Language of American Loggers

Logger slang may have coined terms like "punk," "haywire," and "pie in the sky." One lexicographer attempted to catalogue the industry's slang in 1942.
Second Amendment language

Revisiting the Messy Language of the Second Amendment

The debate over the Second Amendment is not just about guns—it's also about grammar.
Australian kids

Small Poppy Syndrome: Why are Australians so Obsessed With Nicknaming Things?

What's behind the Australian habit of nicknaming and abbreviating everything? Nicknames may just reveal how Australians see themselves and relate to each other.
Censorship bubble

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Words?

Censorship isn't just redacted text and banned words. What happens when censorship is furtive, flying under the radar as much as possible?
Oxford English Dictionaries

In Celebration of Lost Words

At some point in their lexical histories, lost words' original meanings died and have been revived into a mere semblance of their former selves.