Language Reports

Noble Family

We continue our exploration of noble gases in this month’s edition of Word Stories, looking at two more members of this close-knit family. Along with krypton, one of the subjects of September’s instalment, neon and xenon were discovered in the same year by the same chemists.

Metaphorical Gender in English: Feminine Boats, Masculine Tools and Neuter Animals

Why are ships frequently referred to as she and her? This question points to the phenomenon of using creative gender assignment on nouns in English. This article will provide an outline of gender in language and the creative use of gender in English.

Rooted in secrecy

Ammon- and krypto-, roots of this month’s words in question, have a common meaning: “hidden”. Despite their mysterious roots, each refers to a well-known chemical substance, the most famous of which is the fictional kryptonite.

River Thames, Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, Cayuga Lake: the Where and Why of Word Order

Why do the words “river” and “lake” sometimes follow the proper name, as in River Thames and Lake Michigan, and at other times come before them, as in Mississippi River and Cayuga Lake? Rivers and lakes have different sets of naming conventions.

Weird Stories

We pursue our exploration of the animal kingdom in the following Word Stories. Among the weird creatures inhabiting the earth, some enjoy more fame than others. Lexical good fortune has given the long-snouted aardvark a premium spot in most English-language dictionaries, while it has also starred in a number of popular TV series, including the Ant and the Aardvark (1969–1971). The kiwi, a flightless bird, gained celebrity status with its selection as the national symbol of New Zealand, subsequently developing its brand by lending its name to several other uses.

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