Tag Archives: language change

The Hidden Past of Words: English final -y


Consider the following list of everyday English words:  memory, happy, baby, crazy, victory, city, silly, puppy, army For starters, they all end in -y and they can be grouped further as nouns (memory, baby, victory, city, puppy, army) or adjectives … Continue reading

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We’re All Verbs Now


Maybe, maybe not. Are there any English speakers today who don’t accept text as a verb? It was an easy move to permit text as a verb, follownig the paradigm of other communication channel noun-verb pairs in English — the … Continue reading

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Linguistic Asymmetries


Have you ever noticed that, while some words which take a prefix seem to form nice pairings with opposite meaning polarity (tie/untie, compliance/noncompliance, tasteful/distasteful), other pairs don’t work this way? For example, there is nonplussed, but not plussed, insipid, but … Continue reading

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Word Lust


Today’s Wall Street Journal reports on a database of language usage that is now available to researchers. It is derived from the digital library of the world’s books that Google has been assembling in recent years. Thus far, two billion … Continue reading

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S Spotting


Somewhere you’ve probably read or heard the colloquial version of expect, as when cowpokes say ‘I ‘spect it’s goin’ to rain’.  I’ve been hearing and reading (tweets on Twitter) other examples of this phonological reduction: I ate so much chocolate … Continue reading

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The Social Network: Some Thoughts


I finally saw the new film, The Social Network, last night. It’s not a film predominately about language, but there are a few points to make about language in regard to the movie. First, I was deeply impressed, as were … Continue reading

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Word Relics


Today’s word of the day is fortnight. When I first heard this word as a kid, I immediately concluded it had something to do with forts and battlements, some length of time during which soldiers of kings did something or … Continue reading

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Go and Went


If you hear someone say ‘I goed’ and you are a fluent speaker of English, you probably assume it’s a child in the midst of learning their native tongue, albeit with a few over-generalizations of word-formation rules, or an adult … Continue reading

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Meaning in Motion


The word ‘post’ as a vertical pole appears in a number of standard expressions in English:  lamp post, fence post, hitching post, goal post. Hitching posts for horses are pretty rare nowadays, but at one time they were quite common. … Continue reading

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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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