Tag: language

Do You Speak a Language? Check Out These Linguistics Books To Learn More!

Whether you use language to communicate or have formally studied linguistics, you can’t deny that language is interesting. How its both simple and complex, how you learn the rules then break them, how you have to follow said rules but also rely on instinct, and so much more. These books will both teach you about language and linguistics, and you’ll also learn more about the world than you thought some language book could teach you. Go check these out!

Image Via Amazon

1. Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCullogh

A personal favorite, Because Internet is a hilarious, relatable, immensely interesting read. It looks at how the internet has shaped the way we talk, think, and communicate with others within and outside of our generation. Think about it—the way you text is so different from the way you speak or the way you write. And what about the different methods people have started using over the years to convey emotion and tone over a medium that doesn’t naturally convey such things?

Because Internet will teach you all this and more. Linguist Gretchen McCullogh’s entertaining writing style keeps you engaged on the fascinating things she’s talking about, and you won’t be able to put this book down. Seriously, go read Because Internet!

Image Via Amazon

2. The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind’s Greatest Invention by Guy Deutscher

“Language is mankind’s greatest invention—except, of course, that it was never invented.” Guy Deutscher asks that impossible question in The Unfolding of Language—how the heck did language happen? If mankind started with rudimentary utterances, like how cavemen talk in comedy skits, how we did from there to sophisticated and stupidly complicated grammar, a dizzyingly enormous array of vocabulary, and nuance so fine you may as well just bash your head against a wall rather than figure out what something really means.

The Unfolding of Language looks at how language changes, grows, and decays over time, tracing back the roots of language. It’s both entertaining and enthralling, and you’ll be swept up in this book’s frankly genius exploration of the genius behind this “uniquely human faculty.” For anyone who’s ever wondered how whatever Beowulf is written in could possibly be considered English, The Unfolding of Language will teach you more about the intricacies of language than you’ve ever dreamed of.

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3. What Language Is: And What It Isn’t and What It Could Be by John McWhorter

This article’s title asked you a question: “do you speak a language?” You probably know of a good handful of language off the top of your head, but can you define what a language even is? What makes something a language? What makes something not a language? What makes something a dialect of another language and not a separate language? What about accents—are those different languages?

If you want the answers to those questions and more, What Language Is explains how the languages across the globe originate, evolve, multiply, and divide. McWhorter will take you on a journey around the world’s languages, from Sri Lanka to Persia, to examine what on earth a language even is. With big ideas and fun facts, What Language Is will entertain and educate you, so go check it out!

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4. Language Myths by Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill

Language Myths is all about tackling the common myths and misconceptions about language and debunking them. Have you ever heard that the media is ruining English? Or what about people saying that children just can’t speak or write properly anymore? And obviously, is it even a myth that America is ruining the English language? Yes. Yes it is. For all these myths to be explored and overthrown, this witty and entertaining book will do that and more.

Language Myths also tackles some things you didn’t even know were myths before you read this book. For example, they cover the myth that women talk too much, or that some languages are more attractive to the ear than others, or that some languages are easier to learn than others. These myths are full of antiquated thinking and outdated information. Language Myths will teach you many valuable insights and give you some truly fascinating facts. Go read it!

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5. In the Land of Invented Languages: Adventures in Linguistic Creativity, Madness, and Genius by Arika Okrent

Oh boy, this is definitely the book all you geeks have been waiting for. All these other super boring books just talk about real life languages. How quaint. But seriously, Arika Okrent’s awesome book talks about the many invented languages, from ones that everyone knows about like Klingon to more obscure languages like Blissymbolics or Babm. There are actually nearly nine hundred invented languages, if you can believe it. And making up your own language requires lots of hard work, hope, and research.

In the Land of Invented Languages explores all this and more. You’ll read about Esperanto, a language born of one man’s quest for world peace via linguistic solidarity. And you can learn about how humans have tried to create the “perfect” language, because our existing ones are definitely flawed. Or are they? Go read this book to find out!

While the study of linguistics may not be for everyone, the use of language definitely is. So if you want to learn more about this mess we call a communication system, then these books are absolutely for you. From learning about emoticons and keysmashing to the history of how language evolved to Klingon, you’ll be undoubtedly entertained and educated all the way through.

Featured Image Via Book ‘Em

Get Excited for the World Language Museum!

There are so many museums out there in the world, and finally there is going to be a museum dedicated to words and language. The museum will be located in Washington, DC, which is also home to the first ever African American Museum. Now it will be home to the first ever word and language museum, right in the city’s heart, inside the historic Franklin School.

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Image via D C Curbed

It is going to be 51,000 square feet and it will have many different exhibits. The museum is designed to educate people on the different languages from around the world. There will be eleven galleries, and they will focus on the written, spoken, and even sung words. The experiences within the galleries will be immersive, and one actually has karaoke. Imagine how fun that one will be. You’ll even be able to recite famous speeches, such as Martin Luther King Jr’s I Have a Dream speech. There will also be a 22 foot long word wall with over 1,000 activated words that will light up and tell stories about their journey within the English language.

Image via Alamy

There will also be a section where people can use small brushes to paint a scene that will change the virtual landscape of the exhibit. How exciting is that? This museum will definitely be the place to visit when you go to DC. It’s exciting, new, and different, and an experience you don’t want to miss out on.

The Museum will open its doors on May 31, 2020.

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The Family That Inspired the Language of Food in Alyson Richman’s ‘The Secret of Clouds’

Alyson Richman’s latest novel, The Secret of Clouds, is, as she puts it, her ‘love letter to teachers.’ Exploring the transformative bond between an ill child, Yuri, and his tutor, Maggie, the novel was inspired by Richman’s extraordinary friend, the type of person you don’t come across every day. Christina is a third grade teacher, who, each year, has her class write a letter to their eighteen-year-old selves. Christina then keeps the letters and mails them to the children upon their graduation from high school. Richman was understandably intrigued by Christina’s commitment to creating such a moving time capsule for each of her students and has since revealed that Maggie, the passionate, dedicated teacher in The Secret of Clouds is directly inspired by Christina. But Christina’s dedication to her students is not the only thing about her that helped to shape the novel. 


Alyson Richman and The Secret of Clouds
Alyson Richman and The Secret of Clouds | Image Via An Unlikely Story


Christina comes from an Italian-American family for whom food is, she tells me, “a priority, the number one way to reinforce in family and friends that we care.” Family meals are made to bond over, and when Christina was growing up, they were an unmissable daily ritual. Shopping and cooking for events and holidays were family activities, as was the growing of organic herbs and vegetables, the creation of individual menus and place settings for each dinner guest. Christina’s mother, Josephine, was the most instrumental in cultivating the family’s love of food; to this day, she continues to experiment with new and exciting dishes to try out on friends, family, and anyone else who might pass through the house. If a teacher calls to see one of Christina’s children, they will inevitably leave with a tray of scones, the existence of which Christina will be unaware of until the teacher informs her of the kind gesture days later.

Upon getting to know them, Richman too became a beneficiary of the family’s love of food. “If I was down, lasagne would appear at my front door,” she recalls. “If I did some extra carpooling for Christina’s kids, Josephine would bake cookies.” Richman was inspired by the way in which she observed food operating as a language of love for Christina and her family. “One of the things I’m interested in,” she explains, “is trying to explore the different ways we communicate and the different forms of languages in life.” This curiosity abounds in her work; for example, her novel The Garden of Letters, which follows a cellist in World War II Italy and explores how people in the resistance used creative means to transmit essential information. In The Secret of Clouds, Richman wanted to show the ways in which we communicate when words escape us. When something happens in the story that leaves the characters at a loss for words, Maggie’s mother (in the tradition of Josephine) makes lasagne as a way of reaching out and showing care.

Over the years, Christina has found that Josephine’s philosophy of food as caregiving never fails. When a cousin of her mother’s had complained to Josephine about her children being too busy to make time to come and see her, Josephine advised, “cook for them, don’t complain if they have to leave early, and they will come.” And it worked. The cousin came back the next week, saying, “Josephine that was the best advice. I just said I”m making a pot of sauce and I’m making plenty of meatballs and before I knew it I had a full house! I think you’re right. I think I have to cook.”

“If you think about it,’ Christina continues, “in our busy lives, we all have to eat, you wind up having quality family time you might not have had anyway.”

The Secret of Clouds also uses food to bridge cultural divides. When Maggie first arrives in Yuri’s home, his father is making kasha, a fortifying meal from his native Ukraine; he invites her to try some. Later, Yuri explains that because his father is Jewish and his mother is Greek Orthodox, they have created their own Christmas tradition of cooking and eating pierogis. Richman says she wanted to “highlight what unites rather than divides… Food mirrors the sentiment that regardless of where you come from, or who you are, it’s something that we all connect with. Food is a universal language, easily understood through our own personal traditions.” 


Christina tells me that although her family is entirely Italian, part of the joy they take in cooking and eating is becoming acquainted with other cultures. “We have an ‘international cuisine’ flair in our family. We have such appreciation for food from everywhere. [My mother] even made corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s Day! She loves cooking and learning about the way other people cook. It’s the perfect hobby for her because it involves showing people she cares.” 

It was an honor to speak with the author and gain insight into the inspiration for this beautiful novel, to deeper understand the myriad ways in which human beings connect and take care of each other through the universal language of food. If you’d like to learn more about how Christina inspired The Secret of Clouds, check out our article ‘The Incredible Teacher Who Inspired Alyson Richman’s The Secret of Clouds here.



Grab your paperback copy of The Secret of Clouds, which includes Josephine’s lasagne recipe! Make it yourself at home or with your book club, and show those around you just how much you care. 

A clock surrounded by numbers

Is It Daylight Saving Time… or Daylight Savings Time?

Whatever we call it, it’s almost here—you know, that time when we change our clocks in a way that’s us NOT snoozing our alarms. Apparently, there’s been some debate over how this phenomenon is spelled. So, take a moment to honestly evaluate whether you spell it Daylight Saving Time or Daylight Savings Time… and whether or not you’re right.

Life is full of embarrassing moments, and language is no exception. Maybe yours was the moment you realized ‘irregardless’ isn’t a word—and hornswaggle somehow is (it means to deceive or trick). Chances are, nobody’s called you out on your spelling of Daylight Saving(s) Time, but that’s possibly because they also don’t know which is correct.


Daylight saving or daylight savings?

Image Via Date and time


Before you find out the answer, really consider whether or not you say it Daylight Saving Time or Daylight Savings Time. Say it aloud to yourself so that, when the answer comes, there will be no denying whether you’re right or wrong.

Are you ready to feel like a fool? It’s…




Sounds fake, right? Well, we’re not trying to hornswaggle you. Don’t worry—even if you’re wrong, you’re in good company: just today, CNN analyzed the breakdown of Team Saving vs. Team Savings based on Google results for each term. Just to rub in that literally millions of us are wrong, the results show that Team Saving has a substantial seven-million person lead.


Daylight Saving Time is the correct spelling, yikes!

Image Via Cnn


It turns out, the misnomer likely originated from the prevalence of similar phrases, such as ‘savings account’ or ‘life’s savings.’ But even if there are various possible reasons for your mistake, there’s only one possible conclusion: you’re wrong*. Sorry!

*For the record, I was also wrong.


Featured Image Via NicePik.