Archive for September, 2009

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[...]

September 21st, 2009 - 11:20 am § in etymology, vocabulary, word origins

Them’s Fighting Words

We have to thank wars and conflict for many of the popular words in our language today. During occupations our soldiers pick up slang; while fighting with another culture, we learn more about it and assimilate its words (quite the opposite of politicians’ intentions, I think). World War II boo[...]