Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

O’zapft is! 18 essential German words and phrases for Oktoberfest

O'zapft is! Gearing up for Oktoberfest

From 22nd of September, millions of people will travel to Munich, like every year, to attend the world’s largest fair. Until the 7th of October, Munich will once again be hosting the Oktoberfest, which boasts a long tradition. It first took place in 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig (later King Ludwig I) married Princess Therese […]

Obrigado! Takk! Di ou mèsi! Celebrating World Gratitude Day across time and language

gratitude map

How many ways can we say ‘thank you’? In English alone, there are plenty. The Oxford English Dictionary first cites the simplest, thanks, in Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost in 1598. The OED also treats us to some oldies (gramercy [c. 1330], thank thee [1631], thankee [1824]) and contextualizes some goodies (British colloquialism cheers stumbled out […]

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The love that doesn’t quite know how to speak its name: the nomenclature of bisexuality

The love that doesn’t quite know how to speak its name: the nomenclature of bisexuality

In the first of our new opinion columns, Bonnie Kneen looks at the problems surrounding the word ‘bisexual’, and the power of language to make visible – or erase. *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 23 September is Bi Visibility/Celebrate Bisexuality […]

Feelin’ “aight”?

Feelin' "aight"?

In the early 90s hip-hop artist Doug E. Fresh released a single called “I-Ight (Alright)”. The song wasn’t what you’d call a smash hit, but I mention it today because the editors of the OED have just put its namesake aight into the dictionary. Looking at the entry, it seems that Mr. Fresh was a bit of a lexical trail-blazer in […]

Invented languages

Document2 - Microsoft Word_2012-09-20_12-00-18

Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo ‘a star shines on the hour of our meeting’ This is Frodo the hobbit’s greeting in High Elvish, or Quenya, to the Elf Gildor (The Lord of the Rings, book I, chapter iii)—perhaps the most celebrated utterance in an invented language, and arguably one of the most beautiful, both phonetically and […]

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A soul of fire: celebrating Samuel Johnson

A soul of fire: celebrating Samuel Johnson

September 18 marks the anniversary of the birthday of Samuel Johnson. Although he wrote a number of works, he is arguably best known for the 1755 publication A Dictionary of the English Language. While it was by no means the first ever dictionary published, its influence was remarkable, not least upon the dictionary which would […]

The lexical legacy of Occupy Wall Street

The lexical legacy of Occupy Wall Street

Monday, September 17 marks the one-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests, which spawned a movement that spread from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan to public spaces around the US, the UK, and the world. Although the Wall Street encampment was cleared out only two months later, it had already left a mark on the […]

From sock puppets to astroturfing: the language of online deception

From sock puppets to astroturfing: the language of online deception

Who am I? It’s a question I often ask myself when waking up. This isn’t (to my knowledge) because I’m trapped in a high-concept thriller when my brain is wiped every night when I fall asleep. It’s more because I’m not really a morning person. Personal identity is not just a problem for me before […]

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