July 19, 2014
Weep or Cry? Smell or Odor?
The English language is filled with words from other languages. According to many linguists...
July 14, 2014
Does Our Language Reveal Our Age?
Our use of language, vocabulary and grammar in particular, reveal much about us; our education, our class and our place of origin. But did you ever imagine that it also reveals our...
June 03, 2014
What's Your Idiolect?
Each one of us has our own way of using language. When a group has a shared way of speaking, we call it a dialect, but the way an individual speaks is their...
May 30, 2014
12 TED Talks About Words
I have used TED Talks in my classes for a few years now, they are always fresh and provocative. Usually I just find one or two that are relevant to what my class is working on, but today I have...
May 20, 2014
Lost in Translation
No language captures every human concept or experience.
Sometimes we like to imagine, or even convince ourselves...
January 01, 2014
Talking To Children
Learning a language is a challenge for students and adults, but did you know how important it is to talk to your children?
According to several studies, the number of words a young child hears on a regular basis has a lot to do with...
November 17, 2013
History Of The English Language
Is language art or instinct? How do the twists and turns of history define, create and emphasize the inherent characteristics of any given culture and hence, its language?
Here is a super-summarized, and yes, a bit irreverent, overview of the major turning points...
November 11, 2013
Huh? Are There Universal words?
There are linguistic theories that there are some words that cross multiple languages and cultures. You'd think the words most likely to transcend languages and cultures would be those that...
October 08, 2013
Annoying And Bogus Words
Learning a language, especially a language as complex and variable as English, is inherently difficult, but if you factor in words that either aren't real or, at best, are...
October 02, 2013
SVO And SOV: The Depth Of Language
I use the term SVO (Subject, Verb, Object) to illustrate to my students a very simple principle of English grammar: the usual word order of subject, verb and object. "He ate lunch" or "She went home" for example.
Virtually none of them have heard of it before, but they all seem to find it useful. Some languages (like Japanese) have an SOV (Subject, Object, Verb) structure.
But is either one...