When a word spelled backward (such as ‘pots’), creates another word (‘stop’) it’s called a semordnilap, which is ‘palindrome’ backward.

51 Delightful Language Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

These are indeed delightfully mind blowing!

(via writingweasels)


pronunciation | nats-ka-‘shE (nahtzkah-SHEE)Japanese | 懐かしいtip | The final pronunciation doesn’t really have an “oo” sound in it.

pronunciation | nats-ka-‘shE (nahtzkah-SHEE)
Japanese | 懐かしい
tip | The final pronunciation doesn’t really have an “oo” sound in it.

ceebee-eebee:

xshiromorix:

bleedingsilverbird:

“Let’s face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn’t a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.”

— (via be-killed)

But, but, but!

But, no, because there are reasons for all of those seemingly weird English bits.

Like “eggplant” is called “eggplant” because the white-skinned variety (to which the name originally applied) looks very egg-like.

image

The “hamburger” is named after the city of Hamburg.

The name “pineapple” originally (in Middle English) applied to pine cones (ie. the fruit of pines - the word “apple” at the time often being used more generically than it is now), and because the tropical pineapple bears a strong resemblance to pine cones, the name transferred.

The “English” muffin was not invented in England, no, but it was invented by an Englishman, Samuel Bath Thomas, in New York in 1894. The name differentiates the “English-style” savoury muffin from “American” muffins which are commonly sweet.

"French fries" are not named for their country of origin (also the United States), but for their preparation. They are French-cut fried potatoes - ie. French fries.

"Sweetmeats" originally referred to candied fruits or nuts, and given that we still use the term "nutmeat" to describe the edible part of a nut and "flesh" to describe the edible part of a fruit, that makes sense.

"Sweetbread" has nothing whatsoever to do with bread, but comes from the Middle English "brede", meaning "roasted meat". "Sweet" refers not to being sugary, but to being rich in flavour.

Similarly, “quicksand” means not “fast sand”, but “living sand” (from the Old English “cwicu” - “alive”).

The term boxing “ring” is a holdover from the time when the “ring” would have been just that - a circle marked on the ground. The first square boxing ring did not appear until 1838. In the rules of the sport itself, there is also a ring - real or imagined - drawn within the now square arena in which the boxers meet at the beginning of each round.

The etymology of “guinea pig” is disputed, but one suggestion has been that the sounds the animals makes are similar to the grunting of a pig. Also, as with the “apple” that caused confusion in “pineapple”, “Guinea” used to be the catch-all name for any unspecified far away place. Another suggestion is that the animal was named after the sailors - the “Guinea-men” - who first brought it to England from its native South America.

As for the discrepancies between verb and noun forms, between plurals, and conjugations, these are always the result of differing word derivation.

Writers write because the meaning of the word “writer” is “one who writes”, but fingers never fing because “finger” is not a noun derived from a verb. Hammers don’t ham because the noun “hammer”, derived from the Old Norse “hamarr”, meaning “stone” and/or “tool with a stone head”, is how we derive the verb “to hammer” - ie. to use such a tool. But grocers, in a certain sense, DO “groce”, given that the word “grocer” means “one who buys and sells in gross” (from the Latin “grossarius”, meaning “wholesaler”).

"Tooth" and "teeth" is the legacy of the Old English "toð" and "teð", whereas "booth" comes from the Old Danish "boþ". "Goose" and "geese", from the Old English "gōs" and "gēs", follow the same pattern, but "moose" is an Algonquian word (Abenaki: "moz", Ojibwe: "mooz", Delaware: "mo:s"). "Index" is a Latin loanword, and forms its plural quite predictably by the Latin model (ex: matrix -> matrices, vertex -> vertices, helix -> helices).

One can “make amends” - which is to say, to amend what needs amending - and, case by case, can “amend” or “make an amendment”. No conflict there.

"Odds and ends" is not word, but a phrase. It is, necessarily, by its very meaning, plural, given that it refers to a collection of miscellany. A single object can’t be described in the same terms as a group.

"Teach" and "taught" go back to Old English "tæcan" and "tæhte", but "preach" comes from Latin "predician" ("præ" + "dicare" - "to proclaim").

"Vegetarian" comes of "vegetable" and "agrarian" - put into common use in 1847 by the Vegetarian Society in Britain.

"Humanitarian", on the other hand, is a portmanteau of "humanity" and "Unitarian", coined in 1794 to described a Christian philosophical position - "One who affirms the humanity of Christ but denies his pre-existence and divinity". It didn’t take on its current meaning of "ethical benevolence" until 1838. The meaning of "philanthropist" or "one who advocates or practices human action to solve social problems" didn’t come into use until 1842.

We recite a play because the word comes from the Latin “recitare” - “to read aloud, to repeat from memory”. “Recital” is “the act of reciting”. Even this usage makes sense if you consider that the Latin “cite” comes from the Greek “cieo” - “to move, to stir, to rouse , to excite, to call upon, to summon”. Music “rouses” an emotional response. One plays at a recital for an audience one has “called upon” to listen.

The verb “to ship” is obviously a holdover from when the primary means of moving goods was by ship, but “cargo” comes from the Spanish “cargar”, meaning “to load, to burden, to impose taxes”, via the Latin “carricare” - “to load on a cart”.

"Run" (moving fast) and "run" (flowing) are homonyms with different roots in Old English: "ærnan" - "to ride, to reach, to run to, to gain by running", and "rinnan" - "to flow, to run together". Noses flow in the second sense, while feet run in the first. Simillarly, "to smell" has both the meaning "to emit" or "to perceive" odor. Feet, naturally, may do the former, but not the latter.

"Fat chance" is an intentionally sarcastic expression of the sentiment "slim chance" in the same way that "Yeah, right" expresses doubt - by saying the opposite.

"Wise guy" vs. "wise man" is a result of two different uses of the word "wise". Originally, from Old English "wis", it meant "to know, to see". It is closely related to Old English "wit" - "knowledge, understanding, intelligence, mind". From German, we get "Witz", meaning "joke, witticism". So, a wise man knows, sees, and understands. A wise guy cracks jokes.

The seemingly contradictory “burn up” and “burn down” aren’t really contradictory at all, but relative. A thing which burns up is consumed by fire. A house burns down because, as it burns, it collapses.

"Fill in" and "fill out" are phrasal verbs with a difference of meaning so slight as to be largely interchangeable, but there is a difference of meaning. To use the example in the post, you fill OUT a form by filling it IN, not the other way around. That is because "fill in" means "to supply what is missing" - in the example, that would be information, but by the same token, one can "fill in" an outline to make a solid shape, and one can "fill in" for a missing person by taking his/her place. "Fill out", on the other hand, means "to complete by supplying what is missing", so that form we mentioned will not be filled OUT into we fill IN all the missing information.

An alarm may “go off” and it may be turned on (ie. armed), but it does not “go on”. That is because the verb “to go off” means “to become active suddenly, to trigger” (which is why bombs and guns also go off, but do not go on).

I have never been so turned on in my entire life.

pfdiva:

jaredpadaleki:

a Quest is a trip to accomplish a task.

an Adventure is a trip without a destination.

a Journey is when the trip is more important than the destination.

#excuse me while i take a quest to the toilet (x)

I often take journeys up and down my halls to think.  I like this.

its-just-cat:

mishasminions:

I REALLY LIKE THIS URBAN LEGEND BEHIND THE WORD, "FUCK"

THAT SAID THAT IN THE MIDDLE AGES, DURING THE BLACK DEATH, RESOURCES WERE SCARCE SO COUPLES HAD TO OBTAIN ROYAL PERMISSION TO HAVE CHILDREN

SO THEY HAD TO PUT UP A SIGN ON THEIR HOUSE (VISIBLE ON THE ROAD) THAT SAID,

FORNICATION UNDER CONSENT of KING”

AND THEIR ENTIRE STREET WOULD KNOW THEY’RE FUCKING

This is one of the few things of note my father taught me.

ariaste:

sherlocksmyth:

THOU = “YOU” WHEN YOU’RE FUCKING DOING SOMETHING.

THEE = “YOU” WHEN YOU’RE HAVING SOMETHING FUCKING DONE TO YOU.

THY = “YOUR” AND “YOURS” WHEN THE THING YOU OWN BEGINS WITH A FUCKING VOWEL.

THINE = “YOUR” AND “YOURS” WHEN THE THING YOU OWN BEGINS WITH A FUCKING CONSONANT.

IF YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE SHITTY OLD ENGLISH TEXT POSTS, DO IT RIGHT.

WRONG, “thine” is before vowels, just like “an” is before vowels.
An eye. Thine eye.

Not “an coat” or “thine coat”. A coat, thy coat.

This explains it rather neatly: http://www.theyuniversity.net/post/44804318508/what-is-up-with-thou-thee-thy-and-thine

As the great prophet has said, if you’re going to make shitty MIDDLE English text posts, do it right.
(PS Here’s what OLD English pronouns look like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_English_grammar#Pronouns)

*MIC DROP*

Ten Relationship Words That Aren't Translatable Into English
Mamihlapinatapei (Yagan, an indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego): The wordless yet meaningful look shared by two people who desire to initiate something, but are both reluctant to start.
Yuanfen (Chinese): A relationship by fate or destiny. This is a complex concept. It draws on principles of predetermination in Chinese culture, which dictate relationships, encounters and affinities, mostly among lovers and friends.
Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese): The act of tenderly running your fingers through someone's hair.
Retrouvailles (French): The happiness of meeting again after a long time.
Ilunga (Bantu): A person who is willing to forgive abuse the first time; tolerate it the second time, but never a third time.
La Douleur Exquise (French): The heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can’t have.
Koi No Yokan (Japanese): The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall into love.
Ya’aburnee (Arabic): “You bury me.” It’s a declaration of one’s hope that they’ll die before another person, because of how difficult it would be to live without them.
Forelsket: (Norwegian): The euphoria you experience when you’re first falling in love.
Saudade (Portuguese): The feeling of longing for someone that you love and is lost. Another linguist describes it as a "vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist."
asdgjhgajdsfw (English): Of American origin, this word is used to describe something when you are unable to "can"

amandaonwriting:

11 Untranslatable Words From Other Cultures

Follow the link to see the rest

epistephilia:

slephoto:

yvonneemilie:

divineirony:

To say, “This is my uncle,” in Chinese, you have no choice but to encode more information about said uncle. The language requires that you denote the side the uncle is on, whether he’s related by marriage or birth and, if it’s your father’s brother, whether he’s older or younger.

“All of this information is obligatory. Chinese doesn’t let me ignore it,” says Chen. “In fact, if I want to speak correctly, Chinese forces me to constantly think about it.”

This got Chen wondering: Is there a connection between language and how we think and behave? In particular, Chen wanted to know: does our language affect our economic decisions?

Chen designed a study — which he describes in detail in this blog post — to look at how language might affect individual’s ability to save for the future. According to his results, it does — big time.

While “futured languages,” like English, distinguish between the past, present and future, “futureless languages,” like Chinese, use the same phrasing to describe the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Using vast inventories of data and meticulous analysis, Chen found that huge economic differences accompany this linguistic discrepancy. Futureless language speakers are 30 percent more likely to report having saved in any given year than futured language speakers. (This amounts to 25 percent more savings by retirement, if income is held constant.) Chen’s explanation: When we speak about the future as more distinct from the present, it feels more distant — and we’re less motivated to save money now in favor of monetary comfort years down the line.

But that’s only the beginning. There’s a wide field of research on the link between language and both psychology and behavior. Here, a few fascinating examples:

Navigation and Pormpuraawans
In Pormpuraaw, an Australian Aboriginal community, you wouldn’t refer to an object as on your “left” or “right,” but rather as “northeast” or “southwest,” writes Stanford psychology professor Lera Boroditsky (and an expert in linguistic-cultural connections) in the Wall Street Journal. About a third of the world’s languages discuss space in these kinds of absolute terms rather than the relative ones we use in English, according to Boroditsky. “As a result of this constant linguistic training,” she writes, “speakers of such languages are remarkably good at staying oriented and keeping track of where they are, even in unfamiliar landscapes.” On a research trip to Australia, Boroditsky and her colleague found that Pormpuraawans, who speak Kuuk Thaayorre, not only knew instinctively in which direction they were facing, but also always arranged pictures in a temporal progression from east to west.

Blame and English Speakers
In the same article, Boroditsky notes that in English, we’ll often say that someone broke a vase even if it was an accident, but Spanish and Japanese speakers tend to say that the vase broke itself. Boroditsky describes a study by her student Caitlin Fausey in which English speakers were much more likely to remember who accidentally popped balloons, broke eggs, or spilled drinks in a video than Spanish or Japanese speakers. (Guilt alert!) Not only that, but there’s a correlation between a focus on agents in English and our criminal-justice bent toward punishing transgressors rather than restituting victims, Boroditsky argues.

Color among Zuñi and Russian Speakers
Our ability to distinguish between colors follows the terms in which we describe them, as Chen notes in the academic paper in which he presents his research (forthcoming in the American Economic Review; PDF here). A 1954 study found that Zuñi speakers, who don’t differentiate between orange and yellow, have trouble telling them apart. Russian speakers, on the other hand, have separate words for light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy). According to a 2007 study, they’re better than English speakers at picking out blues close to the goluboy/siniy threshold.

Gender in Finnish and Hebrew
In Hebrew, gender markers are all over the place, whereas Finnish doesn’t mark gender at all, Boroditsky writes in Scientific American (PDF). A study done in the 1980s found that, yup, thought follows suit: kids who spoke Hebrew knew their own genders a year earlier than those who grew up speaking Finnish. (Speakers of English, in which gender referents fall in the middle, were in between on that timeline, too.)

dude this is so fascinating

I love language and thinking about language and stuff, its so fascinating

VERY cool stuff.

p.s. go Finland!