Monthly Archives: December 2010

Your phone can translate signs.

Word Lens, a new app that lets your smart phone translate signs and menus is pretty amazing. Take a look: But wait, did they cheat by having the Spanish sign say, “Lo traduce el texto”in order for the English … Continue reading

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Which language has the most words?

In “How Many Words in English?” I touched on something that makes it difficult to compare the number of words in various languages. Words, and parts of words, operate differently in different languages. The entry “words” in dictionaries are not … Continue reading

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How many words in English?

In my last post I discussed Google’s Ngram Viewer and the related paper in Science, Quantitative Analysis of Culture Using Millions of Digitized Books. As I said, the authors of the paper estimated the number of words in English to … Continue reading

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Ngram Viewer and “lexical dark matter”

Google’s new Ngram Viewer,, lets you search for the of words, phrases and proper names in millions of books published between the 1500s and 2000 and instantly charts their frequency of occurrence over the decades. Historians can see, for … Continue reading

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disgruntled, disgusted and disappointed

Do you feel disgruntled, disgusted and disappointed? Well, what happened to your gruntle, gust and appointment? “Disgruntled,” “disgusted “and “disappointed” sound like lonely negatives that have lost their positive forms. The English word “disgust” comes from the French desgouster or … Continue reading

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Comedians are addicted to paraprosdokians. And most of them don’t even know it. Take Henny Youngman – please. Paraprosdokian,  (n. and adj.) refers to a sentence or series of sentences with a surprise ending that causes the listener or reader … Continue reading

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respect, expect, etc.

S-U-S-P-E-C-T You found out what it means to me. Here are some more words that derive from the Latin specĕre ‘to look.’ You know what they mean, so we’ll skip the definitions and inspect only the etymologies that are not … Continue reading

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