Category: Language

Thoughts on language and communication

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Outdated Symbols

Pictograms can be useful for conveying information without text. But they can also go out of date pretty quickly. Such outdated symbols often outlast the very objects they are modeled on. Here are five...

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Top 5 Stick Figures

Stick figures are one of the simplest forms of art imaginable, but there is a lot of history and meaning behind the simple stick man. Throughout the ages, these minimal line drawings have had...

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Odd Punctuation Marks

Punctuation marks are a fairly modern phenomenon. From antiquity up through the Middle Ages, words were written together in great long strings, with little spacing or punctuation. These kind of texts were meant to...

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Homage to Catalan

If you’ve ever been to Barcelona, you might know that they don’t speak Spanish. It comes as a shock to many first-time tourists, but the language spoken in Barcelona isn’t Spanish. It’s Catalan. I’ve...

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Soda vs Pop (vs. Coke)

American English is remarkably uniform. While there are slight differences in pronunciation, especially in the older parts of the country, most Americans can understand each other with ease. But there are differences in dialect....

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Jack of All Trades

“Jack” is the best word in the English language. It is the most versatile word we have, even more than the f-word, which is limited to R-rated conversations. The word “jack”, on the other...

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Fun with Esperanto

Back in my high school days, I spent a lot of time in the public library. One day I discovered an old red book that was an introduction to Esperanto. For those of you...

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Lost Letters: New Alphabets

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve looked at letters of the alphabet that didn’t quite make the cut. Some of the these letters were added to the alphabet and later dropped, whereas others...

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Lost Letters: Modern Spelling Reforms

Over the centuries, many spelling reforms have tried to add new letters to the alphabet. Given that the Emperor Claudius couldn’t pull this off, you might think that no new letters have been added...

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Lost Letters: Old English Letters

In previous installments of this series, we’ve looked at letters of the alphabet made and lost in the days of ancient Greece and Rome. Now let’s look at some of the Old English Letters...