The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally written as a radio script, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978 in 6 episodes described as fits – a term used for a section of a poem that goes back to Old English. The Hitchhiker’s Guide appeared in book form in 1979; since then it has […]
It is highly unusual for words to become the subject of avid discussion—and even of consideration by lexicographers—before they have even been coined! This is the curious situation at present in the world of science, where the announcement of four new chemical elements has created something of a stir. They can now take a permanent […]
It is curious that, although the modern theory of evolution has its source in Charles Darwin’s great book On the Origin of Species (1859), the word evolution does not appear in the original text at all. In fact, Darwin seems deliberately to have avoided using the word evolution, preferring to refer to the process of […]
It is sometimes the case that a scientific field experiences such dramatic progress that the rate at which new discoveries are made outpaces the language needed to describe them. How would it be if there were no words to describe the results of your latest experiment or the structures you see using your new microscope? […]
From a dictionary editor’s point of view, perhaps the main immediate outcome of the announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson was the need to rework some definitions. Following the lead of physicists, the current Oxford Dictionaries definition doesn’t state definitively whether or not the particle actually exists: a subatomic particle whose existence is predicted […]
The discovery, reported this week, of a faster-than-light neutrino shows just how easily the line between science and science fiction can become blurred. Equally, to the uninitiated, the language of science can be indistinguishable from the language of science fiction. We all know, alas, that Superman does not really exist, but how about the kryptonite […]
A noun and a verb sit at a bar. Verb: ‘Hey, wanna go back to my place and conjugate?’ Noun: ‘I decline.’ Tweet us your #languagejokes!