Linguist, author of In the Land of Invented Languages, living in Chicago, doing her part to fight off the cot-caught merger and keep "gym shoes" alive.
There are a few different stories about how it originated (in 1918 at Oregon State, in 1921 at University of Illinois, in 1924 at Lafayette College) but it had first been used in the 1890s when Paul Hubbard, the quarterback for Gallaudet (a Deaf college in Washington DC, now a university) had his offense form a tight circle so they could discuss plays without the other team seeing what they were signing.... READ ON
Leaving aside for now the few foreign loanwords (e.g., Qatar, Iraq) where Q shows up without a U, an English Q is the only letter that can't go anywhere without a partner. Why does a Q always need a U? We can blame it on a whole bunch of our alphabetic ancestors.... READ ON
Disney recently released this compilation video of the song "Let It Go," as sung in 25 different language versions. In less than four minutes, it gives you a sense of the impressive scope of Disney's global reach as well as their amazing control of consistency in production.... READ ON
Hear Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, and The Supremes sing in German.... READ ON
Prii? LEGO? Twix?... READ ON
In the land of the road trip, the marking of town borders becomes a matter of town pride. Here are some welcome signs that don't quite fit the mold.... READ ON
Most inscriptions favor fancy Latin proverbs and religious scripture, but sometimes people get creative.... READ ON
The words we use for family members in English are specific about some things, but vague about others. These words will help fill in the gaps.... READ ON
Gubbploga! GroKo! Bombeiro! Start slipping these into conversation.... READ ON
David Waddell, a city councilman in Indian Trail, North Carolina, decided to end the year with dramatic flair by quitting his job and submitting his resignation in Klingon. But Klingon speakers weren’t exactly thrilled.... READ ON
The inventors of Bubble Wrap were originally trying to make plastic wallpaper.