Tagged With language

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The English language was first spoken in early medieval England around 1400 years ago. This gradually gave rise to today's 'Modern English' which became the dominant form by the 1550s. Today I discovered some of the earliest English words that are still in common usage today.

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If you feel awkward using gender-neutral pronouns - or avoid them because you don't know how to use them correctly - it's time to get up to speed. Language tends to shift towards inclusivity, and gender-neutral pronouns are becoming more widely used, so get in the habit now before you become one of those people who's communicating with outdated language.

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For some of us, grade-school grammar lessons haven't stuck. I managed fairly well with my trusty Elements of Style until pretty recently, but the ongoing assault on grammar that is the Internet occasionally shakes my confidence.

(Every time I want to type rein, rain, or reign, for example, I need to close my eyes and meditate for a moment.)

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The best part of a textbook is the little cartoons they sprinkle throughout, to show that learning is fun: The silly illustrations in a primary school textbook, the New Yorker-style gags in a more adult text, or the angels and mammoths that play around in The Way Things Work. Malachi Ray Rempen’s Itchy Feet, a webcomic about travel, is like the cartoons-only version of those books.

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One of my biggest frustrations with reading in one of the few foreign languages I’ve dabbled in is how long it takes to look up all the words I don’t know (which, admittedly, is a lot of them). It’s disruptive, and I’m likely to quit before I get all the way through an article or chapter or page.

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Everyone's familiar with déjà vu - everyone would have experienced it at some stage in your life. It's a disconcerting flash of recognition of something you know you've never seen before, yet still feels all too familiar. Less people know about this term's sister, jamais vu: but it's a great descriptor for another weird mind trick that's just as trippy to experience.

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English is a funny old language. There's a distinct lack of consistency between sounds, particularly when you look at words as they're written down. This can trip up anyone so what would happen if we approached English as a phonetically consistent language?

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Decimated has historically meant to remove one tenth of something reflecting the Roman punishment of killing one in ten soldiers in under-performing legions. Today it is often used to describe something being significantly damaged or destroyed. Which usage is correct? Well, both.

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Before my daughter learned to speak she learned to sign, and the first sign she mastered was “more”. More meant more — as in, “Give me more milk before I scream-cry in 5-4-3-2-1...” — but for her, it also meant “again”. Sing that song again. Push the toy cash register button again. Make that funny sound with your armpit again, again, again.

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Even though information about other countries is available with a just few clicks online, the best way to truly understand a different culture is through mastering its language.

Learning a foreign tongue is especially useful if you’re traveling and want a fully immersive experience, but finding the time to take a language class can be tough.

That's where Mondly and its AI-powered curriculum come into play.

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Google Translate is an app that's been critical to my success when travelling in other countries. When you don't speak the language (or don't speak the language well) somewhere you're travelling, being able to quickly look something up, or speak into the phone to create a translation you can use to chat with that guy on the street can be a lifesaver.

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Whether you want to chat with the locals on your next holiday or stave off dementia later in life, being bilingual is unquestionably handy. If you're just getting started on learning a new language, knowing where to begin can be a daunting prospect.

Sure, you can just go immerse yourself by living in another country for a while, or use services such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. You can also set up your favourite devices, websites and services to help you get up to speed with a new language. Here's how.