Discover how slang words worm themselves into our everyday speech with this month’s Language Matters article, tracing the paths words take from passing fads to everyday tools.
July is festival season in Antidote’s birthplace, the world city of Montreal, and one of the annual summer events on tap is the biggest international comedy festival in the world: Just For Laughs (French Juste Pour Rire). As a tip of the hat to this hometown hoedown, our Word Stories instalment for the month shines a spotlight on words related to fun and good humour.
Many people make a great effort to speak and write with proper grammar. Unfortunately, this can lead to hypercorrections. Read our article to see if your writing is so correct it’s incorrect.
French haute cuisine is admired around the world, and it’s no secret that words related to good food often come (like haute cuisine) from French. As this month’s Word Stories instalment reminds us, though, many down-to-earth culinary terms are of French origin as well.
Let’s take a look at become and other verbs of change, including go, come, turn and get, which have each evolved to describe this central element of our evolutionary world, and have each cultivated individual particularities on the way. Why can we say that dreams come true and things go wrong, but not that dreams *go true and things *come wrong? Now that you’ve gotten curious, read ahead to become enlightened.
March is the month when the great bears of northern climates begin to emerge from their long winter’s naps. This Word Stories instalment highlights some surprising ways that bears pop up in the history of the English language, beginning with the fact that the native English word for “bear” has mysteriously gone missing.
Everyone knows that spelling (and life) are a little different across the pond. But how did these spelling differences come about in the first place? Why, for example, do we add a u to honour in the Commonwealth and spell kerb as curb in North America?
In recent months the holiday gift-giving season has added to the pandemic spike in home delivery. Porch pirates have been working overtime to steal packages left on doorsteps, and reverse porch pirates have been working to stop them. This month’s Word Stories instalment explores the ways that outlaws, heroes and villains have informed the words we associate with piracy.
Out of all the words in the English language that could lead you down a rabbit hole, positive and negative would probably not immediately come to mind. Positive and negative are often roughly equated to “good” and “bad” respectively, but if we dig a little deeper, we discover it’s not always quite so simple. This basic equivalence may work when talking about the optimistic attitude of a friend, or the dismal critical reviews for a new movie, but as we’ll see, scientists, mathematicians and lawyers all have their own distinct takes on the terms. After all, hearing “positive results” in a doctor’s office can be just as wonderful when discussing a new treatment as it might be horrifying when receiving test results.