Tag Archives: Language

1635: A Kind of Speech They Could Not Understand

In 1635 at Brampton near Gainsborough an Ash Tree shook both in the Body and Boughs, and there proceeded from thence Sighs and Groans, like those of a Man troubled in his Sleep, as if he felt some sensible Torments. … Continue reading

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1874: Lost Beauties

A few entries from Charles Mackay’s Lost Beauties of the English Language: An Appeal to Authors, Poets, Clergymen and Public Speakers (1874): Airt, the quarter from which the wind blows. “Helter skelter from a’ airts, In swarms the country drives.” … Continue reading

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1973: Self-Translation

Born in Ireland, Samuel Beckett wrote almost exclusively in French after moving to Paris in 1939. He would then translate his novels and plays into English. He wrote the following sentence in his 1946 short story “Premier amour”: Personnellement je … Continue reading

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44 BC: False Friends

When I was a student in Italy, a friend of mine once wanted to tell his host family that he liked the bread because it was made “without preservatives.” Not knowing the Italian for “preservative,” he took what seemed like … Continue reading

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2015: Mutually Noncoherent Pulses

In this study, we carried out a reliable measurement of the mutually noncoherent pulses and their subsequent analysis as the most probable acoustic signals of the hypothetic spoken language of dolphins. As this language exhibits all the design features present … Continue reading

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1862: Till Hell Freezes Over

The phrase “until Hell freezes over” seems to originate during the civil war, as the earliest examples in print date from that time. In his 1869 book, The Life and Campaigns of General U.S. Grant, from Boyhood to his Inauguration … Continue reading

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1825: Vale of Honey

The most contentious aspect of [the mid-19th-century British project to survey Ireland, 1825–46] is the way in which place names were anglicized, replaced by English alternatives or simply mis-recorded….Irish names were altered…mostly through the processes of “dictation” in which a … Continue reading

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