Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Meet Samuel Pepys. Born in London in 1633, Pepys was the fifth son of eleven children, born into a merchant-class family. Pepys attended Cambridge University, and entered the British Navy as a bureaucratic administrator. Finding himself particularly adept at the tasks of administration, Pepys rose in the ranks of the Navy Board, despite his lack

Why do humans make art? There are many ways to answer this question. We can ask ourselves, other human beings around us. We can take brain imaging scans to try and trace neural patterns associated with the desire to paint, write, or sing, and we can look into our history to reveal ourselves. Looking at

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New emotions. We’ve all heard the apocryphal stories that Eskimos have dozens of words for different types of snow. While that may not be true (in fact, Inuit languages describe snow and ice very similarly to English), there exists an even more mind-bending aspect of language differences:
 untranslatable emotions. Artist Pei-Ying Lin created a composite

What’s up with thou? Er, or would it be, ‘What’s up with thee?’… ‘What’s up with ye?’ What’s up with English’s history of second-person pronouns, more specifically. That’s our topic of exploration today. Doing so uncovers more than the answers to frivolous questions of anachronistic grammar – the history and contemporary status of these pronouns

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What are the roots and origins of language? Theories and stories abound as plentifully as did languages coming down from Babel. Today, we explore some of the ideas of one of the 19th century’s greatest poet-philosophers, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson was one of the great heralds of the transcendentalist movement which was, in its essence,

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What is a language? And how does that question pertain to the magical wonder of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings universe? We’ll get to the hobbits and elves soon enough – let’s start with the basics! We might posit a language to be: a commonly understood set of verbal symbols, written or spoken, that can

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From one language to another. Can poems be translated? On the surface, the answer would seem a simple affirmative. If any written piece could be translated, why would poetry be any different? Sure, there may be the occasional conceptual-misalignment issues, like the myth that Eskimo languages have hundreds of words for snow (actually, Eskimo-Aleut languages

Language in motion. Language is a constantly evolving phenomenon, a shared set of habits and symbols that exists in our common consciousness, floating, morphing, growing. English is no exception, and has gone through some unique changes, creating… well, a pretty weird language in a lot of ways. We’ve got some wacky vowel usage, for one

Let’s talk sonnets. Sonnets have a reputation as holder for overly saccharine, sappily rhymed love lines – a sort of poetic sugar packet, to be filled and passed around amongst love-sick paramours, but hardly to be taken with much interest or seriousness outside such pangs. Shakespeare’s sonnets generally make the cut of being excellent enough

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Does meter matter? To write with form or free – that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to write Within the stringent narrows of convention, Or to make verse unbound, with free-form lines, And by ignoring structures, thus transcend them. Hyperquoted though it may be, who could resist toying with Hamlet a