October 29th, 2012 - 1:50 pm § in alphabet, etymology, foreign language, japanese, language evolution, mysteries of english, spelling, vocabulary, word origins

Linguistics Link Love – Americanisms and Japanese Kanji

It’s been a while since I last wrote here! Over three years to be precise… I’m now 2900+ miles away from where I last posted from and in a very different place in my life. Fortunately, I still love words, and I want to share a few links I have found lately that might be interesting to linguistics people.

50 Noted Americanisms – Included here are “fanny pack”, “transportation”, and the letter “zee” (instead of “zed”)! I was laughing by the end.


I was recently in Japan and was very frustrated that I was essentially illiterate. It’s very weird to not be able to read anything. The image above depicts the origins of a few Japanese kanji, a set of characters that stand for words. In order, these kanji mean: mountain (yama), fire (ka), tree (boku/moku), money/gold/metal (kin), soil (do/to), and gate (mon).

Here is a whole list of kanji.

That’s all for now. I’m holed up at home because of Hurricane Sandy. Here in NYC (that’s where I live now), public transportation has been shut down until further notice.

Do let me know if you have any linguistics links to share! Post them below.

October 8th, 2009 - 12:28 pm § in language and thought, language learning

Koko the Gorilla

This was the topic of discussion at last night’s anthropology class… There have been several attempts to teach animals language in the past. What we’ve learned is that some animals may actually have the capacity for language… but none have the speech capabilities that humans [...]

October 2nd, 2009 - 8:01 pm § in etymology, vocabulary, word origins, words of the day

Words of the Day (10/02)

Here’s the next installment of Friday words. For all my Words of the Day posts, click HERE. Etymologies: Fall. (Noun. Synonym for autumn – fall is actually only used in the U.S.). This is from 1664, and it’s short for “fall of the leaf” (1545). Halloween. (Noun. October 31[...]

September 29th, 2009 - 7:40 pm § in language and thought, language evolution, language learning

Does language make us human?

I’m currently taking 2 anthropology courses at a local community college (Mission College), and one aspect of cultural anthropology is language. In the wild, animals can communicate with different sounds and movement. Honeybees even have a way to convey where the best flowers and pollen are. D[...]

September 25th, 2009 - 11:10 am § in etymology, vocabulary, word origins, words of the day

Words of the Day (9/25)

Here’s the next installment of my Friday words. For all my Words of the Day posts, click HERE. Etymologies: Assassin. (Noun. A murderer of an important person, generally for political or religious reasons.) This word comes from the Arabic word hashishiyyin (hashish-users). A slightly nutty Ism[...]

September 24th, 2009 - 5:56 pm § in mysteries of english, old english, plurals, spelling, word origins

How many nouns?

Nearly all nouns have different singular and plural forms. I have one cat; he has two cats. I ate five apples; he had one apple. Nouns with a plural and a singular form are called variable nouns. Most variable nouns form the plural by taking an -s at the end. The added -s is called […][...]

September 22nd, 2009 - 4:26 pm § in foreign language, swahili

The Swahili Language

Since one of my friends is doing a semester abroad in Nairobi, I thought I would do a post about the Swahili language. You might already know more than you think. Simba = lion in Swahili. Thank Disney for this one. Uhuru = freedom. Remember that character in Star Trek? (I don’t.) The actress w[...]