“The King’s Speech” garnered four golden statues at this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, including the Oscar for Best Actor for Colin Firth’s riveting portrayal of King George VI. The film’s depiction of George VI’s lifelong struggle with stuttering has brought a renewed awareness to the speech disorder that affects over sixty-eight million people worldwide. What is the origin of this disorder and how did it get its name?
February 29th happens every four years and is known as a modern leap day (as opposed to the Medieval leap day: February 24th) or leap year. While the next intercalary year is a solar rotation away (not till 2012), it never hurts to be prepared with origin and precise meaning of the term.
The origin for the term “leap year” is derived from the Medieval Latin saltus lunae or CONTINUE READING »
Romance can refer to an enchanting quality that makes a heart beat faster, but in linguistics Romance languages are the Indo-European languages descending from Latin, the best-known being French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. Why is one word used for both?
Take a look at any news source today and you’ll see the name of Libya’s de facto leader, Muammar al-Gaddafi. Look a little closer and you’ll see a multitude of spellings for the notorious politician’s surname such as Gaddafi, Kadafi and Qaddafi. Why does a name that has been making headlines for decades have so many varied spellings?
There may be a new planet joining the solar system. A provocative hypothesis posed by a duo of planetary astronomers from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette includes the existence of the planet Tyche: a ninth planet estimated to be four times the size of Jupiter located somewhere at the outermost reaches of the solar system. It’s hard to know what is more enjoyable, stories about planets themselves or the meaning behind their names. NASA can handle the astronomy; here’s the meaning behind the name.
Catalan is a Romance language spoken primarily in the Eastern and Northeastern regions of Spain, mainly Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Isles. It is the official language of Andorra, a landlocked country located in the Eastern Pyrenees (mountains bordered by Spain and France), and the second official language of Spain. The Catalan language was nearly wiped out completely in the early 1700s only to experience a renaissance beginning in the early 20th century. What is the origin of this remote language and what saved it from near extinction? CONTINUE READING »
Just like the old “tu’mey-tow” vs. “tu’maa-tow” debate, Michiganders, or Michiganians (depending on which side you’re on), have long found themselves in a state of disconnect. It seems that the great divide facing residents of the Great Lake State these days centers around the demonym – the name of a resident of a specific locality – that best suits the people of Michigan. Whether you proclaim yourself a Michigander or a Michiganian may say a lot about who you are and where you come from. Is one better than the other? Can the two co-exist? CONTINUE READING »
A few months ago, we asked readers to share their choices for the most beautiful sounding word in English. Nearly 500 of you shared your favorites, which included the lyrical, delightful and uplifting. Read some of the highlights, here.
Some of you not only shared your favorite but also least favorite CONTINUE READING »
Admit it, whether you regard yourself as a scholar of linguistics or a self proclaimed language snob – you’ve, at least once, crossed over to the dark side and used the word “like” in a sentence where it, like, doesn’t belong. Narrowly escaping the grammar police, you catch yourself, cringe and promise never again! This usage of “like” is known as a slang interjection. This form as well as the adverbial use of “like” dates back a lot further than you might think. CONTINUE READING »