There are 7 posts.
Every language has words that cannot be translated into English without cumbersome and lengthy explanations, and yet are so good at conveying some elusive quality that you cannot help but wonder why there is no English equivalent. Japanese is no exception, and some of my favorite words offer a glimpse into Japan’s own unique view […]more
Hello and Konnichiwa to our Oxford Dictionaries blog readers. Today is World Tourism day, and we thought we’d ask our Twitter followers about some of their experiences with language whilst being a tourist. Needless to say, when you don’t speak the local language at all, some situations can be quite frightening, and funny… We picked […]more
We’ve all heard that supposedly women are from Venus and men are from Mars but how different are their styles of communication and speech? Linguists propose that women and men speak differently, regardless of which language they speak. These differences are often called gendered speech. Unlike the grammatical genders which can be assigned to nouns, […]more
The use of foreign loanwords can be a contentious issue. The public attitude towards loanwords not only reveals their view on foreign influences but also demonstrates how the national language or culture is perceived in a given society. The case of contemporary Japan constitutes an interesting case study in this regard. Three layers of the […]more
In Japan, there is a common myth of the spirit of language called kotodama (言霊, ことだま); a belief that some divine power resides in the Japanese language. This belief originates in ancient times as part of Shintoist ritual but the idea has survived through Japanese history and the term kotodama is still frequently mentioned in […]more
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” may have been good advice for Laertes in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but it isn’t practical for a language. English is both an avid borrower (ballet, schmooze, wok) and a generous lender: consider German das Baby, French le week-end, and Japanese aisu kuriimu (‘ice cream’—try saying it out loud). Occasionally, […]more
The English language is no stranger to being infiltrated by loan words from other languages. As far back as the days of Old English, when there was enormous influence from the Viking invaders, English has always found room for new words and more ways to express similar concepts (e.g. maternal and motherly) and this continues […]more