Though it’s a high-value letter in Scrabble and Words with Friends, h is a relatively common letter. Statistically speaking, it is the eighth most commonly used letter in the English language. That’s because h is usually paired with other consonants like wh, ch, sh, and gh. H is found in the most common two-letter pair (th) and in the most common three-letter combination (the). Find the raw data here. (The letter h is typically pronounced aitch.) CONTINUE READING »
We had the opportunity to sit down with Will Shortz, the editor of the New York Times’ Crossword Puzzle and NPR’s Puzzlemaster. Learn about the history of the crossword and how it’s intertwined with the dictionary.
There are, of course, many ethical and health controversies surrounding vegetarianism in all its different forms, but we wanted to know – where did the words come from? Who invented “veganism”?
Vegetarianism has been around for a very long time. Some historians date it back to Ancient Greek philosophers, and religious sects of Buddhism and Hinduism have encouraged vegetarianism for hundreds of years. CONTINUE READING »
Mathematicians at the University of Vermont have been meddling in a field very far from boring numbers. Earlier this month, they officially declared the English language “optimistic” based on a careful analysis that combined statistics and subtle human evaluation. The researchers, led by assistant professor Chris Danforth, aggregated texts from Twitter, CONTINUE READING »
The two front-runners in the Republican presidential primary are commonly addressed by their nicknames. Though we refer to the former Speaker of the House as Newt, his real first name is Newton. His rival Mitt Romney’s real name is Willard Mitt Romney.
Nicknames are very common in English. The word nickname comes from an Old English word ekename, CONTINUE READING »
Last week, we stumbled upon this article from the New York Times’ Frugal Traveler about a language hidden in rural Portugal. In the northeast corner of Portugal, there is a tiny county called Miranda do Douro and in Miranda do Douro many inhabitants do not speak Portuguese, but rather its distant cousin, Mirandese. This region is geographically divided from the rest of Portugal by two rivers that run on either side of it, CONTINUE READING »
Profanity is in the air, it seems. Earlier this week in Britain on the TV game show Countdown (which is a live variation of Boggle), a contestant saw a British swear word in the jumbled letters and was awarded points because it was “in the dictionary” as the host said. You can watch the clip from the show here.
In 2010, the United States Supreme Court declared the censorship laws CONTINUE READING »
Every school child learns the months of year with an easy rhyme: thirty days has September, April, June, and November. All the rest have thirty-one, except February alone… How exactly does it end? We’re not entirely sure, but the first lines continue to help us remember the idiosyncrasies of our calendar. (Rhymes or phrases that help you remember something are called mnemonics, named after the Greek goddess of memory, Mnemosyne.) CONTINUE READING »
If you were go into a Christian church in America, the congregation would probably be speaking English, maybe Spanish, maybe another modern language. But they almost definitely would not be speaking Aramaic or Greek, the languages that the Christian Bible was written in. So why do we not read the Bible in Greek? And how many languages has the Bible been translated into? CONTINUE READING »
Last week, we discussed the suggested list of Banished Words for 2012, a list of words developed by a former journalist at Lake Superior State University in Michigan of words that were misused, overused, and abused in 2011 that should not be used in 2012.