Category Archives: Language

Linguistics and stuff about English


Anglish is a “linguistically pure” form of English with many fewer words borrowed from other tongues, specifically, using Germanic roots in place of Latin ones. e.g. we would use the German “ache” rather than the French “pain”, etc.

For example, rather than using Greek roots “Psyche” and “-ology” we would use the germanic “Mind” and “-lore”, thus, “Psychology” would be called “Mindlore”.

More at,, and wikipediaRead the rest

Happy Birthday, Mary Somerville: The Brilliant Woman for Whom the Word “Scientist” Was Coined

How a Scottish polymath forever changed the course of gender in science and made a high art of connecting the seemingly disconnected. The history of science is strewn with remarkable women who overcame a crushing dearth of opportunity and towering gender bias to contribute to the corpus of human knowledge…
Source: Brain Pickings
Happy Birthday, Mary Somerville: The Brilliant Woman for Whom the Word “Scientist” Was Coined

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Love Lies Bleeding

We’re familiar with the Elton John song, “Funeral for a Friend” from “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”, with the line, “Love Lies Bleeding in My Hands”. But the lyric makes a bit more literal sense knowing that Love Lies Bleeding is a kind of flower, specifically of a type of Amaranth, Amaranthus Caudatus. Its seeds are eaten in its native central America, where it is known as kiwicha.

I’ve found no origin for its distinctive, striking name. the rest

Word(s) of the Day: Bathetic Impeller

“Bathetic” combines the obscure “Bathos” with “Pathetic”. Bathos means anti-climatic and overly sentimental. If someone were telling you a story that seemed meaningful and sincere, one that might reveal a hidden truth about human nature and the Universe, but ended up disappointing you by being trite and ordinary and depending on a simple perspective of emotion, then that would be a bathetic story.

A propeller is a spinning set of blades that pulls or pushes an object. An impeller is the same thing but is intended to move the air or water instead of the vehicle. A fan is an impeller. A washing machine agitator is an impeller. If you used an outboard motor to cool off, you’d be using your propeller as an impeller.… Read the rest

The Conscience of Words: Susan Sontag on the Wisdom of Literature, the Danger of Opinions, and the Writer’s Task

“A writer ought not to be an opinion-machine… The job of the writer is to make us see the world as it is, full of many different claims and parts and experiences.” “Words belong to each other,” Virginia Woolf observed in the only surviving recording of her voice. “Words are…
Source: Brain Pickings
The Conscience of Words: Susan Sontag on the Wisdom of Literature, the Danger of Opinions, and the Writer’s Task

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The great American word mapper


What am I looking at?

The data for these maps are drawn from billions of tweets collected by geographer Diansheng Guo in 2014. Jack Grieve, a forensic linguist at Aston University in the United Kingdom, along with Andreas Nini of the University of Manchester, identified the top 100,000 words used in these tweets and how often they are used in every county in the continental United States, based on location data from Twitter.

Once Grieve and Nini identified these words and their locations, they used hot-spot testing, a common technique in spatial analysis. This is the “regional smoothing” setting you see above. This technique uncovers geographic trends in data by clustering together nearby areas with similar results. You can adjust the smoothing or disable it … Read the rest

Toni Morrison on the Power of Language: Her Spectacular Nobel Acceptance Speech After Becoming the First African American Woman Awarded the Accolade

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” In the final weeks of 1993, Toni Morrison (b. February 18, 1931) became the first African American woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded her for being a writer “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.” On December 7, Morrison took the podium at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm and accepted the accolade with a spectacular speech about the power of language — its power to oppress and to liberate, to scar and to sanctify, to plunder and to redeem. Morrison’s address, included in Nobel Lectures: From the Literature Laureates, … Read the rest

Finding Poetry in Other Lives: James Baldwin on Shakespeare, Language as a Tool of Love, and the Poet’s Responsibility to a Divided Society

Brain Pickings

““The greatest poet in the English language found his poetry where poetry is found: in the lives of the people. He could have done this only through love — by knowing… that whatever was happening to anyone was happening to him.” “You have to tell your own story simultaneously as you hear and respond to the stories of others,” the poet Elizabeth Alexander wrote in contemplating power, possibility, and language as a tool of transformation. A year later, she became the fourth poet in history to read at a U.S. presidential inauguration when she welcomed Barack Obama to the presidency with her poem “Praise Song for the Day.” But where do we turn when the day is unpraisable? When … Read the rest