There are 30 posts.
The term mother tongue used to be derogatory. Your mother tongue is the language your mother speaks, and she speaks it because she has no proper education. You, however, went to school and learned Latin. Such was the case, at least, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, when Latin served as the language of […]more
Igpay atinlay, so they say. The Oxford English Dictionary gives references to the term pig Latin appearing in various sources since the 19th century. Sometimes used to refer to ‘incorrect’ or ‘bad’ Latin, it also refers to an invented version of a language used as a code. In this latter sense, it is commonly thought […]more
The discovery of previously unknown pages from a very early book printed by William Caxton is an exciting event for historians of printing. The pages—from a liturgical manual for priests known as the ‘Sarum Ordinal’ or ‘Sarum Pie’—are in Latin, so they won’t provide any new data for the history of English words; but it’s […]more
If you’ve ever stopped to think about it, you may have noticed that there’s something wrong with you. ‘You’ is what is called a personal pronoun. In English, as in most languages, these are grouped into three distinct ‘persons’: the first person (‘I’), the second person (‘you’), and the third person (‘he’, ‘she’, or ‘it’). […]more
You have traveled back in time to the year 200 BC with the aim of taking over the world. You brought with you a solar-powered Kindle to which you have downloaded the contents of Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, and WebMD. You are confident that only you can read its contents, since you alone in the world […]more
Like the combining forms –phobia and –cracy, which we have discussed previously, –mania forms part of numerous English words. While it is commonly used in psychology to describe a type of mental illness, mania can also mean ‘an obsessive enthusiasm for a particular thing’ in a broader, everyday sense. But have a look at our […]more
Bread, bones, clams, dough, and moolah: we have a lot of slang terms for money in the English language, to name just a few, er, noteworthy examples. Specific currencies have their own nicknames, too, of course. The Australian and American dollar, for example, often go by ‘buck’, which probably calls back the use of buckskins […]more