Monthly Archives: July 2010

Possible World Words

Someone mentioned hearing an interview on the radio in which a native Spanish speaker (who was speaking English in the interview) used the word conspiration when referring to conspiracy.  Interesting.  There is no word in any English dictionary for the … Continue reading

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What’s a Disney Ride?

Recently some friends were out sailing with us in Boston Harbor; as we sailed homeward we approached an extremely dark cloud — just one all by itself.  The light was dramatic behind it and under it the sea and outlines … Continue reading

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More Word Jumbles


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The Allure of Color Terms

I’m a little fascinated by the specific names for colors that are chosen in clothing and home furnishing catalogs (both online and paper). It would be fun to collect some of these catalogs over the past fifty years and see … Continue reading

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Linguistic Intuition

What is linguistic intuition? As native speakers of languages we all possess it, but what is it? For linguists, it’s a powerful methodology to explore the limits of grammatical structure allowed in a language, to articulate the rules that determine … Continue reading

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What’s up with up

The word ‘up’ in English has many uses and functions: it occurs as an adverb  (we need to liven up our presentation),  a preposition  (the mouse crawled up the drainpipe), an adjective (the mood was definitely up at the meeting), … Continue reading

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Word Jumbles

Just for fun here are five jumbled words (English). Unscramble them, and for extra credit, try to create a clever saying using only the inventory of letters included in the five words. So that means you may use up to … Continue reading

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First or Last Syllable?

What’s the underlying logic for choosing the first versus the last syllable in abbreviated English words? I have a feeling that using the last syllable is more recently popular than in earlier times, e.g. ‘rents’ (parents)  ‘zine’ (magazine)  ‘za’ (pizza) … Continue reading

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Begged, Borrowed or Stolen?

Actually just borrowed — in the linguistic sense. We’re doing more lists today, this time a brief inventory of words which English has borrowed from various other languages over the centuries. Unlike economic imports and exports, linguistic borrowing occurs below … Continue reading

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Words without Pictures

A lot of lists get published on blogs and twitter feeds. The 10-item list seems to be especially popular: the 10 things you need to know before the market opens each day, the 10 stupid mistakes made when pitching to … Continue reading

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