Typewriter enthusiasts around the globe are probably feeling a bit blue this week after hearing that Godrej and Boyce, one of the world’s last operational typewriter factories located in Mumbai, India, closed its doors for the last time after an impressive one-hundred-and-fourteen year run. Once regarded as an indispensable device for any writer, the typewriter has long been regarded for both its beauty and functionality. Ernest Hemingway once said, “Typewriters write the way people CONTINUE READING »
We’ve explored the meaning behind the “X” in Xmas, Xbox, the X-Men, and even its use in friendly and amorous correspondence (XOXO). Now it’s time to take a closer look at the origin of this multi-functional, twenty-fourth letter of the English alphabet. With its long, ambiguous history and multiple phonemes, the letter “X” is quite a dark horse.
Since its inception, the letter “X” has struggled to establish its own CONTINUE READING »
A recent online survey claims that China has better English verbal skills than neighboring India, but just barely. EF Education ranked the world’s English proficiency through an online survey between 2007 and 2008. The highest-ranking nation in the survey was Norway, China ranked 29th, and India 30th, while Kazakhstan was last at number 44. The survey was admittedly not scientific (see for yourself), but it did reveal the level and breadth of interest in studying and improving English skills across broad swathes of the globe.
In the case of India, the ranking came as a bit of a surprise: English is a national language CONTINUE READING »
The religious content of Easter is relatively easy to explain and understand. The holiday’s substance starts to blur however, when it comes to a certain anthropomorphized bunny, baskets, pastel colors, and eggs. There’s far too much in this semantic basket to tackle; let’s start with the crucial question “what’s the difference between a rabbit, a hare, and a bunny?”
Capitalization rules tend to vary by language and can be quite complicated. It is widely understood that the first word of a sentence and all proper nouns are always capitalized. However, what is not so clear is the origin of the upper case distinction that has become common practice, especially in regards to Modern English. To unmask the origin of the capital letter we need to refer to a script derived from the Old Roman cursive called uncial. CONTINUE READING »
The origin of spoken language has stumped linguistics dating as far back as the Twenty-sixth dynasty in Egypt and the first recorded language experiment conducted by a Pharaoh named Psammetichus I. While it is widely understood that our ability to communicate through speech sets us apart from other animals, language experts, historians and scientists can only hypothesize how, where and when it all began. Some new findings may provide some real insight into this conundrum.
A recent study conducted by Quentin D. Atkinson, a biologist at the University of Auckland in CONTINUE READING »
Imagine this: you buy a piece of meat from your local butcher, take it home, and make a meal with your family with some of it, leaving the left out for a meal tomorrow. Later that night, you notice a soft blue glow emitting from the kitchen. When you go to investigate, you find that it is none other than the leftover raw meat glowing!
Is this something out of a science fiction movie about mutant meat? Not CONTINUE READING »
Whether you call it a buck, a single, a one or a bill, the linen and cotton-blend currency resting in your wallet at this very moment contains a smorgasbord of images, symbols and Latin phrases – some hidden in plain sight. What do they mean and, once deciphered, can they unlock a series of veiled messages from our forefathers?
In honor of National Poetry Month, let’s tackle some of the trickiest aspects of meaning — after all, poetry is one of the great ways to express subtle and slippery thoughts. Our focus today is translation. How can someone convey the meaning of a word that has no equivalent in another language?
A recent study led by Janet Werker, a psychologist at Vancouver’s University of British Columbia, suggests that children who learn two languages at once may have increased cognitive abilities such as enhanced visual and auditory sensitivity. While Werker does not believe that a person must grow up in a bilingual environment to gain such advantages, the study suggests that it can’t hurt.