Tag Archives: linguistics

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Friday Fun: Hit by a Bus

In 2009, Slate’s Explainer asked and answered: “When did getting “hit by a bus” become the standard image of unexpected catastrophe?” They credit Joseph Conrad, more specifically his protagonist (of sorts), Mr. Verloc, with the earliest accident-related usage: But just try to understand that it was a pure accident; as much an accident as if […]

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Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar…

Did he really say it? Probably not. But it sure does come in handy! Slide Sources: Slide 1: HBO show In Treatment, season two, episode 11, Mia Slide 2: The New York Times, “Let’s See What’s Inside That Pretty Head,” November 23, 2011 Slide 3: More Intelligent Life, “The Designer Who Makes Buildings,” profile of […]

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Speak Egyptian

In the above video (Egyptian Arabic with English subtitles), teenage polyglot Timothy Doner, featured last week in The New York Times, talks about his own Arabic study and some of the different uses of formal and colloquial Arabic. While I personally don’t agree with his rigid division between the two, his abilities are impressive, especially […]

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Arabic is the Best Language

At More Intelligent Life, Economist Middle East and Africa editor Josie Delap, sings the praises of Arabic: To a native English-speaker, searching for a language to learn and probably inexpert in the dark arts of grammar, the simple Romance languages with their common-sense syntax might seem obvious choices, perhaps even those of Scandinavia with their […]

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Dragon - Arabic calligraphy

Origins: Arab Spring

I’m gearing up to do more Arabic-related posts on this blog and, by way of an introduction, I’d like to propose a new, additional meaning to the phrase ‘Arab Spring’. As it is, Arabs speaking in Arabic appear to prefer some variety of ‘Arab revolutions’ (??????? ???????) or ‘Arab uprisings’, even though “Arab Spring” may […]

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Henry-William

An Unusual Rivalry

During their lifetimes, Henry James and his older brother William enjoyed great affection for one another, fame in their own realms and a healthy rivalry – one that appears to have followed them into the cultural afterlife. In Author, Author, David Lodge muses that, if he the opportunity to speak with James now, he would […]

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Strawberry Hill

Origins: Serendipity

From More Intelligent Life, the origins of the word ‘serendipity’: The word that best describes this subtle blend of chance and agency is “serendipity”. It was coined by Horace Walpole, man of letters and aristocratic dilettante. Writing to a friend in 1754, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had just made by reference to a […]

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iEducation?

iEducation?

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player In this recent story for ABC News, the newscaster, a parent, demonstrates how her toddlers appear to learn words and counting via an iPad app but then show no ability to replicate their knowledge when confronted with old-fashioned flashcards. An NYT article I’d linked to earlier on the blog, reported […]

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