Tag Archives: linguistics

Drop that R!

Br’er Rabbit, Marmee. and Eeyore. If you’re reading aloud or just hearing the names in your head, drop that R. These characters from children’s literature hail from the southern U.S., England and New England – all within the R-less zone. … 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, http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/, 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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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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Oddly enough “suspect” comes from Latin suspectus past participle of suspicere, which means ‘to look up, look up to, admire, esteem,’ from sub ‘below’ + specere “to look at.”   Douglas Harper of the Online Etymological Dictionary explains, “The notion is … Continue reading

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