Category Archives: The English Language

America’s Most Misspelled Words

In case you missed it, Google Trends recently researched the hardest-to-spell words in the first four months of this year.  Their analysis identified what words was searched most often when people typed “how to spell ___” into the Google search engine.  The results were tabulated by state, then published in this map. According to a

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A Word For Today — Retronym

I have on occasion written about the English language, especially how it morphs to keep up with changing times.  Today I have another example — The relentless advance of technology has necessitated the creation of a new word — retronym.  Google it, and you get this definition — a new term created from an existing

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What English Doesn’t Have Words For

Sometimes language expresses concepts, and since different cultures develop in different circumstances, other languages have words that English-speakers have no need for.  For example, I have always heard that Eskimo have many words for snow*.    I’ve found an article that highlights more of these examples, like malu, an Indonesian word for “the sudden experience

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What Are Fossil Words?

We all realize English is a dynamic language, constantly adding words and changing meanings.  The most common definition of gay has completely changed in my lifetime, and google has been added as both a noun and a verb.  (Yes, it was a word before, but as googol, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.) But

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Language Families and Japanese

Did you know languages can be grouped into “families”?   For example, English is a Germanic language, and the Romance Family includes Latin and all its derivatives, including Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. I was thinking about this during my recent trip to Japan.  To a Westerner like me, the writing systems in Asia all look

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Word Origins — Turquoise

English is full of interesting words.  For example, the popular shade of blue known as turquoise comes from a French term that means “Turkish stone.”   Some thought incorrectly that these stones all came from Turkey.  While turquoise was in fact traded in Turkey,  the true origin of these bluish gems was probably Iran or the

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Origin of the Drone

Word meanings  can have fascinating histories.  For example, the heavily armored vehicle was named a “tank” to disguise its true purpose.  There are oil tanks, water tanks, etc, so who would expect one that moves and shoots back? Here’s a more contemporary example.  Why are unmanned aircraft called drones? I found one explanation in the

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