Facebook’s newest user agreement set off some red flags. When you logged onto your Facebook account today, you agreed that: “You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.” What does that legalese mean? If you log into Facebook, you are no longer allowed to use CONTINUE READING »
Learning a new language always takes time and effort, but are some languages easier to learn than others? There are two answers, one of which is fairly obvious; the other has to do with music and different sides of your brain. CONTINUE READING »
There has been much ado about the specific clothing, furniture, and products in the hit AMC series Mad Men. Of course, fans love the accurate details. The afternoon cocktails and elaborate dresses are a constant reminder of how much has changed in the 50 years since the 1960s. The show gets the set right, but what about the dialogue? How does their accuracy apply to language? Not so well, it seems.
Do you call it a sub? A grinder? A hoagie? A poor boy? That all depends on where you live.
The Dictionary of American Regional English has been more than 40 years in the making. In the early 60s, lexicographers and linguists led by the University of Wisconsin at Madison sprawled all over the country in search of unique words. CONTINUE READING »
A group of physicists recently collaborated on a statistical survey of words. You may be wondering why physicists are interested in language. In this case, it is not language per se, but how words imitate the statistical patterns of the stock market and animal populations. CONTINUE READING »
Encyclopedia Britannica announced that they will stop publishing print editions of their books. The renowned encyclopedia publisher was not slow in jumping on the digital bandwagon: they published a version for computers as early as 1981, and they went online in 1994. CONTINUE READING »
Censorship is probably as old as language itself. Okay, maybe it’s not that old, but there were censorship laws in Ancient Greece and in Dynastic China more than 2,000 years ago. From the Latin verb censere meaning ”to appraise, value or judge,” the word “censor” was first used to name the Roman official who oversaw public morals. CONTINUE READING »
News flash: Twitter now comes in 28 languages – including Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, and Urdu, which are written from right-to-left. Twitter has long supported right-to-left text from users, but it now has instructions and can display hashtags from right-to-left as well.
Why are some languages written from right to left and others from left to right? CONTINUE READING »