Words like talented and glossy-paged represent a curious feature of English: adjectives that seemingly take the past participle verbal ending -ed, but that do not derive from verbs. Why can you say talented when there is no lexicalized verb to talent? Why does a glossy-paged book sound natural but a paged book, a concreted wall or a five-houred drive sound strange?
In recent years, technology has drastically changed the way in which we communicate. While it has brought us countless new words, as shown in our last instalment of Word Stories, it has also superseded some older methods of communication. Still, for the time being, the printed page survives, and the language of printing and typography is very much alive.
Although Latin is a dead language, it has a funny way of coming back to haunt us from beyond the grave. Complex declensions and deponent verbs aside, aspects of Latin grammar and vocabulary continue to affect the English language today. One such linguistic haunting is the question of whether the Latin-derived word data should be treated as a plural or a singular. So which is it, data is or data are?
While most people associate January 1 with the new year’s arrival, some also consider it to be the “birthday” of the Internet: TCP/IP, the protocol on which the Internet operates, was adopted on this day in 1983. Since then, this technology has changed our lives, and our language, in countless ways. The subjects of this month’s Word Stories were either unheard of or had very different meanings back in 1983. Read on to find out how these words have evolved alongside the Internet itself.
Hanukkah is widely known across the English-speaking world as an important Jewish holiday. How do you spell it?
Autumn is well and truly here, and people across the English-speaking world have been celebrating Halloween: a fusion of Christian and pagan traditions with a heavy emphasis on magic and the occult. Accordingly, spells and curses are the subject of this month’s Word Stories, although, in the case of one of our words, the connection might seem mysterious at first sight.
Many English adverbs end in -ly (beautifully, honestly, merely), some other adverbs end in -wise (clockwise, otherwise, date-night-wise), and some never take a suffix (inside, midflight, so, thus). When a flat adverb (such as smart, loud or quick) does have an -ly form (smartly, loudly, quickly), many writers wonder whether it is acceptable to use the suffixless form.
With autumn just around the corner, students are heading back to school. Most of them will already be familiar with the theme of this month’s Word Stories, since plus, minus and equals are rudimentary components of any curriculum. However, the subject of the words themselves is rarely covered.