Word Stories

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.

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.

After a succession of food and drink-based Word Stories, it might be time to turn our attention to some physical activity. Badminton, croquet and polo are all sports frequently associated with the English aristocracy, but their etymologies vary greatly, both in their origins and their complexity.

The culinary theme continues in this month’s selection of Word Stories. After sampling a few recent additions to the anglophone diet, we return to some of its most common and best loved products: tea, chocolate and ketchup.

Although the English language is a complex blend of diverse ingredients, the English-speaking world is not typically known for the richness of its cuisine. Our native culinary stock is particularly meagre when it comes to vegetarian and vegan options, which probably explains the large number of borrowings in this category. Meat-free anglophones borrowed two key components of their diet from opposite corners of the earth, helping themselves to their names while they were at it.

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