Each of the 50 states in the USA has its own motto. The motto might be found on the state seal, or the state flag; more often than not, it might be in Latin, or Spanish, or Chinook; it might be a phrase or a single word. And if you think you know what yours is, check that it is not in fact an advertising slogan.Read More
If you love eponyms like Roman Mars loves eponyms, I'm afraid physician Isaac Siemens is here to deliver some bad news: medics are ditching them, in favour of terms that a) contain information about what the ailment actually is, and/or b) don't honour Nazi war criminals. Eponyms are controversial things.Read More
What is your beautiful brain up to as you comprehend language?Read More
If you don't have a Rosetta Stone to hand, deciphering extinct languages can be a real puzzle, even though they didn't intend to be. They didn't intend to become extinct, either, but such is the life (and death) of languages.Read More
Languages die. But if they're lucky, a thousand-odd years later, someone unearths an artefact that brings them back to life.
Laura Welcher of the Rosetta Project shows us the Rosetta Disk, a slice of electroplated nickel three inches in diameter that bears text in 1500 languages for future linguists to decipher. Ilona Regulski of the British Museum describes how its namesake, the Rosetta Stone, unlocked hieroglyphics.Read More
When you choose to spend the winter in Antarctica, you'll be prepared for it to be cold. You know that nobody will be leaving or arriving until springtime. And you're braced for months of darkness. But a few weeks after the last sunset, you might find you can't even string a sentence together.Read More
On your marks...
It's the Etymolympics, where the gymnastics should be gymnaked and the hurdles are a bloodbath.Read More
Which are you: Millennial, Generation X, Baby Boomer, Silent Generation, an impressively young-looking Arthurian Generation? Or are you an individual who refuses to be labelled? Demographer Neil Howe, author Miranda Sawyer and Megan Tan, the host of Millennial, consider whether the generational names are useful or reductive. Or both.Read More
"How are you?"
"Oh, fine - and you?"
"Yeah, not bad. Nice day today, isn't it?"
"Yes, it was a bit chilly this morning, but now the sun's come out..." [Continue until
Small talk is usually not conveying much vital information, nor is it especially interesting. But beneath that comfort blanket of tedium lies a valuable social function.Read More