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

October, 2017 Language Matters

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.

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Rooted in secrecy

September, 2017 Word Stories

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.

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

August, 2017 Language Matters

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.

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Weird Stories

July, 2017 Word 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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Navigating the British Isles: A Lexical Guide

June, 2017 Language Matters

The terms Britain, United Kingdom and England, among others, are a source of confusion for many people outside (and even inside) the British Isles. With so many overlapping names and entities, it is no surprise that people have trouble choosing their words when talking about these islands and their inhabitants. In this article, we will look at these different names, what they mean and how to use them.

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Small Names for Big Beasts

May, 2017 Word Stories

The wild theme continues in this month’s Word Stories. We examine two remarkably similar beasts that hail from opposite corners of the earth: the African plains and the highlands of Asia. 

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Migrant, Refugee, Immigrant and Expatriate: What is the difference?

April, 2017 Language Matters

The English lexicon for people living outside their country of origin has been shaped by the historical forces of colonialism, globalization, immigration and war. 

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