September 14th, 2009 - 12:08 pm § in eponyms, etymology, word formation, word origins

Eponymous Words

Eponymous means named after a particular person. For example, the Harry Potter series and Reaganomics are both eponyms. This is another way that words are added to a language. Eponyms are actually all over our language. Did you know the Pavlova (a meringue dessert) was named after the Russian baller[...]

September 11th, 2009 - 12:24 pm § in etymology, lexicon, vocabulary, word origins, words of the day

Words of the Day (9/11)

Check out all my¬†Words of the Day posts HERE. Etymologies (thanks to Clare’s questions): lexicon – Lexicon comes from the Greek word lexis, which means… word. Lexus – Lexus (like the car) is the short form of Alexus, which is a variant of the name Alexis. Alexis comes from G[...]

September 10th, 2009 - 1:42 pm § in lexicon, vocabulary

How Many Words Do You Know?

How many words (lexemes) do you think the average person knows? How many lexemes are there in the entire English language? Neither of these questions have a real answer. An individual’s lexicon (the number of words he knows) will vary considerably depending on his career(s), hobbies, reading h[...]

September 9th, 2009 - 2:17 am § in color terms, etymology, germanic, old english, PIE, word origins

Basic Color Terms – Germanic & Old English

Today’s topic: color terms. But first, a brief lesson… The Indo-European languages are a family of languages spoken in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The languages can be broken down into branches, such as: Anatolian, Indo-Iranian (like Iranian), Greek, Italic (Italian, French, etc&#[...]

September 8th, 2009 - 1:13 pm § in language and thought, linguistic determinism

Linguistic Determinism – “freedom” & counting

Let’s talk more about language and thought. If you missed it, check out my post on linguistic determinism. Last time I concluded that if language keeps one from practicing thinking about something, then it succeeds in affecting the way one thinks. Did you ever read George Orwell’s book, [...]

September 7th, 2009 - 1:15 pm § in etymology, word origins

Happy Labo(u)r Day!

Labour. The British spelling of labor. Labor. This word is traced back as far as ~1300AD. It comes from Old French labour (now French labeur), which was from Latin laborem. In today’s French, Spanish, and Portuguese, the verb actually means “to plow”, not “hard, physical work[...]