Recent Blog Posts

Why is an activity carried out by hand done “manually”? The arm’s terminus is called a hand in every Germanic language – with only minor variations like the Icelandic hönd — yet describing acts in which the hands are indispensable requires borrowing from Latin. The Latin word for hand, manus, […]

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Dr. Michael Erard’s body of research is enough to pique the interest of any language-lover. At the intersection of discourse and cognition, Dr. Erard explores linguistic phenomena, from metaphors to clarify concepts in early-education skill-building to the thinking that underlies how rock bands select their names. His latest book, Babel […]

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Fall semester of this year marks the launch of a degree-seeking translation and interpretation program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. What makes this program particularly unique among a small but stellar group of U.S. universities that offer similar courses of study is a welcome fact for many potential […]

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What better way to bring language learners into the modern era than with tutorials and learning materials tailored specifically to tech lovers? The University of California, Los Angeles, has been doing just that over the course of the past two years with the Language Materials Project. Supported by a grant […]

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A recent study out of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig may shed some light on the neural mechanisms underlying dyslexia. Using magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) technology, researchers compared the brains of control subjects with those of dyslexic adults. Their findings pinpointed a very […]

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Getting through day-to-day life requires a multitude of shortcuts and heuristic devices. Consciously or subconsciously, we save time by skimming pages, half-listening to lectures, and multitasking whenever possible. Similarly, our processing of language demands glossing over certain semantic variations in order to quickly and efficiently glean meaning from the bevy […]

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Many of the sports we play and watch today have fascinating etymological histories. Below you will find some of the freaky, funny, intuitive, and counterintuitive roots in the world of sport. The word “sport” itself has been around in the English language since the mid-15th century, when it was derived […]

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Legalese – the bone-dry and tortuous language of the law – can be as mystifying as it is ubiquitous. To help our readers parse some of the more common and curious legal terms, below are their Latin roots. a posteriori: A phrase used to describe an argument derived from experience, […]

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Just as linguists drew from the field of biology to apply the terms “living”, “endangered”, “dead”, and “extinct” to languages, so, too, do other fields dip into linguistics, either to develop models based on concepts popularized in that field or – in the case of mathematician Anne Kandler and colleagues […]

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Three centuries ago, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke examined the idea of linguistic and psychological categories by juxtaposing them with a hypothetical language in which every object that exists would have its own name. Instead of using the word “bird” to mean any member of its species, […]

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