GIF. The acronym that spawned a thousand passionate debates regarding its pronunciation. Be you in the creator's soft-G camp or some other faction, there is no universal understanding on how it should be said. Quick question: Has anyone stopped to ask why?
Tagged With language
The English language is a voracious eater, consuming words and digesting them into whole new things. Sometimes words that used to be trademarked by companies pass into generic use — like escalator, thermos, and aspirin. And sometimes words live in limbo: still trademarked, but used all the time as generic terms. Here are 15 of those words.
The history of why 'Q' is almost always followed by 'U' is fascinating, and dates back to when the Normans invaded England in 1066.
Before that, English didn't even have a Q; it used "cw" to replicate the sound. After the invasion, though, the spelling of English was changed to match the French ways: "cw" was replaced with "qu."
Video: If you've seen The Sopranos or met someone from Italy you know Italians love to talk with their hands. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just a collection of randomised arm flapping and emphatic gestures! Italians have a whole vocabulary of hand movements to quickly (or quietly) convey what they mean.
Video: The lesson, as always, is that we're dumb. All of us. Even the smartest among us can't save us because we're all so dumb. Why? Because when we hear the wrong words, we don't bother to fix ourselves but instead adopt those wrong words into our language even though they're clearly wrong. It's great! Language is always changing... for the worse.
By now you probably know that the emoji you send on an iPhone might not be the emoji that is received on a Nexus. Since emoji are designed differently across platforms, sometimes your text messages might get lost in translation. But how differently might your well-intentioned emoji be displayed?
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!
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.
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.
A journalist conscripted into writing propaganda. A sad pharmacist compelled to make drugs used in lethal injections. A doctor FORCED TO GIVE SOMEONE CANCER.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?