Category Archives: The English Language

The Origin of Quarantine

In the course of being quarantined and following everything that was happening around the world, I ran across some interesting explanations for the origin of the term itself. The actual  word “quarantine” is derived from the Italian quaranta, meaning “forty.” It is traced back to the language of Venice, Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries. During

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The Benefits(?) Of Sarcasm

At the high school where I substitute teach, an English teacher has a poster for the National Sarcasm Society. Their symbol is a jackass and their slogan is “Like We Need Your Support.” Actually, there is a Sarcasm Society (https://www.sarcasmsociety.com/) and there’s plenty of “National Sarcasm Society” merchandise available on Amazon.com. I suppose this can

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Does English have Enough Words?

How many words are there in the English language? I’ve seen estimates ranging from 400,000 to as many as a million if you count all the scientific and technical terms, although a quick Google search says the Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use (https://wordcounter.io/blog/how-many-words-are-in-the-english-language/). No matter who is counting, a

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Following Politics Through Words

One way to keep up with what’s happening is to follow word trends, According to Merriam-Webster, here are some of the words people have been looking up recently. Kangaroo Court — Inquiries jumped 11,000% on October 8 after President Trump described the congressional impeachment hearings as “a totally compromised kangaroo court.” Merriam-Webster’s definition is either “a

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The History of Meme

The English language is fascinating, especially regarding the way new words are formed and how meanings evolve. Take “meme.” According to Merriam-Webster, the current meaning is “an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) that is spread widely online especially through social media.” But the word itself isn’t new. It actually goes

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