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The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, blog posts, and podcasts. If you read or hear something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected].
By Carol Harrison
Need a five-minute break from hacking and chopping and cursing the English language? Open Culture features a short lesson by Yale linguistics professor Claire Bowern on the roots of English. A sweet, simple, and smart TED Talk, cheekily animated by Patrick Smith.
Speaking of roots, The Independent’s Natasha Salmon reports on how the French language is facing a backlash on gender-neutral words.
I’m a big fan of Words to that Effect, “a literary podcast of the intriguing, the curious, and the unexplored” hosted by Conor Reid from Dublin, Ireland. In episode 9, “Imaginary Countries and the Ruritanian Romance,” Conor talks about making up place names. Lovely stuff!
And for those days when you’ve run so low on dilithium crystals that your flux capacitor just goes kablooey, consider listening to “Technobabble” on Imaginary Words. In this episode, scientists and screenwriters team up to get the words right. It’s the droid you’re looking for.
Carol Harrison is editor-in-chief of BoldFace and quality assurance specialist at CPA Canada. When she isn’t focusing on words, she’s focusing her Nikon D3200.
This article was copy edited by Afara Kimkeran.
The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected]
By Carol Harrison
Does the current state of world affairs leave you without words? Thankfully Planet Word, the soon-to-be museum of linguistics in Washington, DC, won’t be. And did you know there is also a National Museum of Mathematics in New York? For me, both celebrate languages.
On January 14, Zhou Youguang died at 111 years old. If you’ve learned to read and write Mandarin using Hanyu Pinyin, you have him to thank.
Pardon me while I geek out. I can’t say enough good things about the movie Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve. Finally, a science-fiction film that’s about communicating with aliens, not shooting them up! If you’ve watched the trailer, you’ve seen a sample of how the language looks. Wired’s Margaret Rhodes talks to the people who created the alphabet. Oh, and a shout-out to Jessica Coon, an associate professor of linguistics at McGill University and Canada Research Chair in Syntax and Indigenous Languages, who consulted on the film! Now I’m off to find Ted Chiang’s 1998 novella “Story of Your Life” on which all this is based.
Back down to earth, or perhaps flying a few feet above the ground, the BBC’s Andrew Evans finds out how falconry sank its talons into the English language.
Have current events got you riled? Do you plan to join a march? Want your placard to pack extra punch? Let linguist Daniel Midgley help.
Carol Harrison is editor-in-chief of BoldFace and freelance editor and writer at Muse Ink. When she isn’t focusing on words, she’s focusing her Nikon D3200.
This article was copy edited by Ambrose Li.