Tagged With language

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Video: Why is a pineapple called a pineapple in English but is named anana in pretty much every other European language? Well, it's because English speakers saw the spiky fruit and thought of a pine cone and apple while other countries use the Tupi Guaraini (language used by natives in South America) word for pineapple, nana, which means excellent fruit. I mean, they're both kind of right!

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Video: Time travelling back into the past is almost always a bad idea. Everybody is racist, everything is dirty and you'll probably get some terrible disease and/or get stabbed with a sword that everyone is carrying but you. The world is generally dumber and worse off. And on top of that, you might not even be able to understand the English they're speaking.

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Video: It's because though English is a Germanic language (the grammar and core vocabulary comes from that), there are a lot of words that come from the Romance (Latin-based) languages too, which were leaked into English when French-speaking Normans ruled England. That explains why there are a lot of twin words that mean the same thing in the English language.

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Video: All animals all over the world sound the same. It's not like they speak different languages, they make the same noises even if they're different countries! But why is it that different languages think animals make different sounds? It's because we're giving names to the sounds that animals make in the construct of language, not totally mimicking what they're saying (different languages have different rules and some languages have more versatile phrasing). That's how a duck can quack in English, ga ga in Japanese, coin coin in French, kyra kyra in Russian and so on.

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Video: Why is a daisy called a daisy? Because it comes from the Old English of Day's Eye, when the flower opens up during the day and closest in the evening. Bonfire? Started from bone fire. Month? A moon cycle, moonth. Being alone? It's because it's just all one. Here are some really fun word origins from Arika Okrent. The etymology is staring at us straight in the face, we just don't know it.

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With viral memes and hashtags sweeping the internet on the daily, language is evolving faster than conventional dictionaries can keep up. You may have been "procrastatweeting" about the "popepocalypse" last week, but the stalwart publishers of the Oxford English won't give your neologisms official recognition for years to come, if ever. Heck, they didn't even put hoverboard down until 2015!

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Video: There are many theories on how human language began. Some think it may have started from imitating sounds that already exist in real life. Others think it could have started with our sounds that come from natural reactions (pain, etc.). Or it could have been grunts and noises made when needed to work together. Or maybe even out of love.

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Despite language being an ability we use constantly, the average person's understanding of its intricacies is, well, average at best. For example, did you know 60 per cent of the words we say and use are comprised of "the"? Or that when you concatenate the 20 most common English words, the resulting sentence is almost intelligible?

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Internet shorthand is ubiquitous, but in our desire to get words out quickly, meaning can be muddled or lost. Case in point: Accent marks, one of the foremost linguistic casualties of the digital age. Now, defenders of the Spanish language are trying to bring the neglected markings back.

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We humans pride ourselves on our cultural diversity, but we're not the only creatures that form unique societies. Turns out, two clans of sperm whales living near the Galápagos Islands speak different dialects — offering yet more evidence that animals have culture, too.

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Video: Where did the names for the days of the week come from? It came from the planets! Saturday is Saturn Day. Sunday is Sun Day. Monday is Moon Day. Tuesday is Mars Day. Wednesday is Woden's Day (Mercury was his messenger). Thursday is Thor's Day (Jupiter Day). Friday is Venus Day. Watch as Arika Okrent explains how the planets got translated into the names of the days we know now.

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Language evolves at break neck speed on the internet; what's cool one minute is lame by the next. Case in point: "LOL" is dying. A Facebook report claims that LOL is now one of the least popular ways to express laughter on the social network. Why? Probably because of mum.

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English in Australia has diverged somewhat from its roots, but not so much that we're completely unintelligible to others who might speak their own variety of the language. Being immersed in the stuff, it can be hard to truly appreciate its quirks, until someone highlights them for you.