The Scots Language

A lecture in Scots about the history of the Scots language. “As there are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing a language from a dialect, scholars and other interested parties often disagree about the linguistic, historical and social status of Scots and particularly its relationship to English. Although a number of paradigms for distinguishing between […]

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English is not normal

No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language. An essay by John McWhorter, professor of linguistics and American studies at Columbia University (The Language Hoax, 2014): ” In countries where English isn’t spoken, there is no such thing as a ‘spelling bee’ competition. […]

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The Power of Language

In this video, we explore the incredible power of language—written, spoken and performed. First, meet the creator of Game of Throne’s Dothraki, then discover the curious etymology behind Pokémon and finally, meet a teenager reviving the ancient language of Quechua through pop music. A video from Great Big Story, a global media company devoted to cinematic […]

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Word of the Year: Behind the Scenes

How did the Merriam-Webster Dictionary choose surreal as their Word of the Year for 2016? Peter Sokolowski explains the data behind their decisions, and what that tells us about what people were thinking this year. Surreal is Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year because it was looked up significantly more frequently by users in 2016 than […]

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A Brief History of the Metal umlaut

Ëvërÿthïng’s mörë mëtäl wïth ümläüts! The German Umlaut started to appear in various Germanic languages around 450 or 500 AD and it’s been really popular with hard rock or heavy metal bands ever since. The most famous example is, of course, Motörhead. Their singer Lemmy Kilmister once said in an interview, “I pinched the idea […]

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The Sideways dictionary

The Sideways dictionary is like a dictionary, but using analogies instead of definitions. Use it as a tool for finding and sharing helpful analogies to explain technology. Because if everyone understands technology better, we can make technology work better for everyone. Video: How to write an analogy: Simplifying complicated technology concepts with Sideways Dictionary Sideways […]

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How Bootleg Translations of VHS Tapes Started an Anime Fan War in the 90s

The little-known story of how a fight over Fushigi Yûgi subtitles built Ottawa’s anime community. A fascinating story from the bronze age of subtitles over at Vice: “In the nineties, before broadband modems became widely available—and before anime streaming services like Funimation and Crunchyroll—staying up-to-date on anime was an arduous process. North American fans who […]

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