Marți, 22 Decembrie 2015 23:30

On the Origin of Christmas Words

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Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on December 25th as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world. Etymologically, Christmas is a compound word originating in the term Christ’s Mass. It is derived from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038, followed by the word Cristes-messe in 1131. Crīst is from Greek Khrīstos, a translation of Hebrew Māšîa, Messiah meaning “anointed”, and mæsse is from Latin missa, the celebration of the Eucharist.

Vineri, 27 Noiembrie 2015 09:24


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The acquisition of language “is doubtless the greatest intellectual feat any one of us is ever required to perform.” (Leonard Bloomfield)
Every child has the capacity to learn, more precisely to acquire any human language. Language is an instinct and not a learned skill such as playing the guitar or riding a bicycle. But how do children acquire language? Do they learn by imitation? Do adults teach them? Do they learn by reinforcement? This article examines language learning, comprehension, and genesis by children and provides insights into the ways in which children extract, manipulate, and create the complex structures that exist within natural languages.

Luni, 19 Octombrie 2015 19:31


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Language myths are ideas which are widely believed to be true about certain languages or about the works of language in general, but which are actually not, in the view of most linguists. One example is the common belief that certain languages are more “primitive” than others. Or that translation is no more than a word-matching process. Such myths may be the result of folk etymology (a popular, yet mistaken account of the origin of a word or phrase), of misconceptions spreading because they are more interesting, entertaining or convenient than the real explanation, of oversimplification or of the prevalence of stereotypes. If you believe that S.O.S. stands for save our souls, that Eskimos have scores of words for snow, that crossing one’s arms necessarily means resistance, that it was Marie Antoinette who said “Let them eat cake”, or that some languages are spoken faster than others, you may need to reconsider your views. Below we attempt to refute these widespread linguistic myths, and uncover the less known reality behind them. 

Vineri, 11 Septembrie 2015 15:14


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As readers and writers, we are intimately familiar with the dots, strokes and dashes that punctuate the written word. The comma, colon, semicolon and their siblings are integral parts of writing, pointing out grammatical structures and helping us turn letters into spoken words or mental images. The rules of punctuation vary with language, location, register and time and are constantly evolving. In written English, for example, punctuation is vital to disambiguate the meaning of sentences. But how did it all begin?

Miercuri, 26 August 2015 22:32


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According to Wikipedia, a “loan word (or loanword or loan-word) is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language, without any translation. It is distinguished from a calque, or loan translation, where a meaning or idiom from another language is translated into existing words or roots of the host language”.

Miercuri, 22 Iulie 2015 03:27


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An old Italian saying encourages us to speak the way we eat. The fifteen gastronomic fun facts below show that we do; copiously. Our everyday speech is jammed with food-related words and expressions, some of which are savourily obvious, while others have to be long digested before identifying the culinary kernel. A possible explanation is that we use food as a vehicle for metaphor because it offers basic sustenance, and the mind can be as hungry as the stomach. If this tastes like brain candy, satiate your intellectual hunger by discovering that even terms which seem easy as pie can turn into a meaty topic once you chew on their story a bit. Without trying to spoon-feed you, this month we invite our avid readers to take a tasty trip among the world’s languages and their flavourful idioms, and learn what salary actually means, the origin of toasting, what one literally does when being sarcastic, or how various cultures reduce having it all to food. Here are our fifteen appetizing pieces of food for thought: 

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