Tag: English language

Thanksgiving sides

The many ‘sides’ of Thanksgiving… and the English language

We may talk a lot of turkey during the holiday, but US Thanksgiving is really all about the sides. Yes, we pile our plates with mashed potatoes and green beans, but we also feast on the many other great sides the English language has to offer. From all sides During the holiday, both sides of a family may gather together out in a relative’s home in […]

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Tweens, teens, and twentysomethings: a history of words for young people

In August 2010, the cover of the New York Times Magazine half-wondered, half-complained to the world, “Why are so many people in their 20s taking so long to grow up?” The article was a splashy survey of research being conducted by psychology professor Jeffrey Arnett into what he called “emerging adulthood”—better known as “your twenties.” […]

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Video: what is the longest word in English?

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What’s in a name? Bob’s your uncle and other curious expressions

If you’ve ever said Bob’s your uncle or called someone a smart Alec, you might have asked yourself: why do certain names appear in common English expressions? While several (such as Champagne Charlie, Billy-No-Mates, and Nosey Parker) began life as fictional characters in popular culture, others apparently refer to real individuals. We explore some of […]

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OED 2 min

Interactive map: the OED in two minutes

This animation uses data from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to show how English has developed by borrowing or adapting words from different languages and regions of the world, from 1150 to the present day. These patterns of word-borrowing reflect the changing demography of the English-speaking world; cultural and economic influences on Britain; the spread […]

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Video: acronyms and initialisms – what’s the difference?

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Bow-wow, tyke, and cur: names for dogs

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Talking proper: the language of U and Non-U

The release of The Riot Club, a fictionalized version of the Oxford University Bullingdon Club, based on Laura Wade’s 2010 play Posh, seems a fitting moment to consider how to talk posh. In 1954 the linguist Alan C. Ross published a study of ‘Linguistic Class-Indicators in Present-day English’, which first introduced the concept of ‘U’ […]

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