September, 2021 Word Stories

In researching the etymological evolution of words, it’s taken for granted that we’ll see them passed down from one language to the next. Today’s Word Stories instalment is a little different. Every once in a while, a word that has been passed from one language to another can find itself passed right back, like a serve returned in a game of ping-pong. The etymological notes below shine a spotlight on this curious phenomenon, by showing how the game can be played out between English and French.

August, 2021 Language Matters

Few punctuation marks require less explanation than the period. As English’s default symbol of final punctuation, it tends to cause far fewer linguistic headaches than commas, semicolons or em-dashes. The fact that periods mark the end of a sentence is easy to grasp and has rarely been the subject of debate. Straightforward and uncontroversial though they are, nowadays, people end their sentences with periods a little less often than they used to.

July, 2021 Word Stories

In today’s instalment, we look at some words that have stretched and drifted in directions so unpredictable they’ve rotated a full 180 degrees away from their original connotations.

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