Tag: mythology

corbita

A comma in Catullus

“I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” –Oscar Wilde Only Oscar Wilde could be quite so frivolous when describing a matter as grave as the punctuation of poetry, something that causes particular grief in our […]

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night sky

Pluto and its underworld minions

Early this week the spacecraft New Horizons began its flyby of Pluto, sending a wealth of information to back to Earth about Pluto and its moons. It’s an exciting time for astronomers and those intrigued by the dark dwarf planet. Pluto has special significance not only because it is the only planet in our solar […]

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chemistry

How did the chemical elements get their names?

Etymologically, chemical elements are in a class of their own. Unlike much of the English language, the names of elements tend to have been chosen by the researchers who first discovered them rather than developing organically over time. There are no rules as to how these names are decided, but the history of chemistry reveals […]

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Why doesn' the plural of sheep have an 's'?

The plural of sheep and other plural questions

It’s probably safe to say that most of us don’t give much thought to how plural nouns are formed in English. In fact, add –s or –es, whatever a word’s origin or meaning, might be one of the easiest grammatical rules in the language. So we have book / books, church / churches, hula / […]

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shutterstock_66368041

Ye Gods! Praise the Days

In this last week of December 2012, I am gazing at the calendar above my desk and wondering how it is possible that in a few days I will have to hang up a new calendar for a new year (as my past gets longer, are the years getting shorter??). My mind wanders as I […]

Take the quiz to learn which classical character you are!

Which classical character are you?

The many and varied classical characters that appear in Greek and Roman mythology played such a large role in the cultural identity of those ancient civilizations that tales of their exploits have endured and have been incorporated into literature and language worldwide. The names of the characters themselves are often listed in dictionaries and are frequently associated […]

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Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Linguistic Innovator

This is not a shockingly grammatical sequel to the acclaimed series, but a chance to revel in the magically inventive language of the Harry Potter books. The films have reportedly made over six billion dollars to date and the books have been translated into 67 languages, with 450 million copies sold worldwide. J. K. Rowling’s […]

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