Tagged With linguistics

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Though we grumble about it, most native English speakers have just accepted that sometimes the language doesn't make a whole lot of sense, contenting ourselves to memorise an elaborate series of tricks and sayings to help us keep things straight. But it seems one question has been plaguing people for long enough that someone had to research it: why do people add an extra "r" that doesn't exist when pronouncing the word "sherbet"?

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Steven Pinker, the famous linguist who isn't Noam Chomsky, doesn't think using "literally" figuratively is all that bad. "The figurative use doesn't mean the language is deteriorating," he says in a 2014 interview, comparing it to the hyperbolic use of "terrific" or "wonderful".

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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As linguist and podcast host Daniel Midgley explains at Quartz, making clever protest signs is difficult because you have limited space and your message has to be absorbed quickly (since you'll be moving around). Whatever you'll be protesting, Midgley offers up seven approaches that can help your sign really be seen.

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Referring to a single person who may be of any gender in English can be tricky. It can be awkward to use words like "one" or phrases like "he or she," and many a grammarian hates using "they" as to refer to a single person. How has English gotten this far without such a convenient pronoun? Actually, it hasn't.