Old Books

Melvil Dewey’s Attempt at a Spelling Revolution

Melvil Dewey, of the Dewey Decimal system, thought we should have spelling reform.
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).
Parrot

What the Folk? The Charming Yet Totally Malappropriate Story of Folk Etymology

Etymology is a funny thing. Even if you're not a word nerd, you might have wondered why so many English idioms we use are Just. So. Weird.
imessage punctuation

The Strange Life of Punctuation!

Punctuation is often a symbolically loaded. Is there anything else so heavily regulated, codified and coddled as the period, comma, or exclamation point?
Arrival film

Is Writing a Technology or a Language? Let’s Ask Some Aliens

Are written and spoken language really two different things? 
Newspaper cutouts

How Does the Language of Headlines Work? The Answer May Surprise You.

How headlines have changed as media has evolved -- and how they haven't.
Enigma machine

Will Reading Romance Novels Make Artificial Intelligence More Human?

Google is feeding its natural language AI thousands of romance novels in an effort to humanize its “conversational tone.” Will this give it "humanness?"
Mister Splashy Pants

The Linguistics of Other People’s Pants (and Other Dishonorific Epithets)

The linguistics behind "dishonorifics." In this kind of naming construction, clearly honorifics are added in an ironic, tongue-in-cheek way.
Mrs. Malaprop

The Monstrous Words Lurking in Your Language

“You have hissed all my mystery lectures. I saw you fight a liar in the back quad; in ...