From the category archives:


English Over Time

by Dr Davis on February 8, 2016

English 1000 years Psalm 23

I read the Middle English with a Scots accent.


Double Negatives?

by Dr Davis on January 5, 2016

double positive linguistics


Drawing Notes

by Dr Davis on December 25, 2015

This year we experimented in our classes with drawing the notes on an article. (We had already taken written notes.) I used the information I gained from a TED talk to introduce the idea and I shared my drawn notes.

Today I was reminded of that experiment (somewhat successful and, at least, having no negative impact) by an article on JRR Tolkien drawing middle-earth.

map of Rohan Gondor and Mordor Tolkien drawing writing LoTR

pictograph word of the year 2015While I still think it is weird that the OED’s word of the year for 2015 is a pictograph (face with tears of joy), I think it is interesting that literacy seems to be moving towards images… What will the world read like in five hundred years.


Amelia Bedelia for L2

by Dr Davis on December 13, 2015

True Confession Time:

I have always loved the Amelia Bedelia stories. That is not what I need to confess, though. Everyone who loves words should love those books.

What I have to confess is I didn’t know that words that mean the opposite of each other are called contronyms.

dust contronym Amelia Bedelia

Dust is a contronym.

So are

For when I am teaching linguistics or my ESL bridge class.


Literary Map of English Language

by Dr Davis on November 26, 2015

Literary history of the English language in one map:

lit map of English language

It moves through time. It starts in 1800 and moves through to this year.

The article also has Kalev Leetaru’s map of locations mentioned in conjunction with the American Civil War between 1855 and 1875. I find that interesting, since the Civil War didn’t start till 1861.



by Dr Davis on November 24, 2015

by Väsk WC CC3

by Väsk WC CC3

How did we get the English word pineapple? I don’t know. But I think it is interesting that:
words for pineapple linguistics

Etymology? Late Middle English called it a pine apple (their word for pinecone) because they thought it looked like a pinecone.

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English is Weird.

by Dr Davis on September 23, 2015

English is weird


Maps for Linguistics

by Dr Davis on September 15, 2015

Like this one

linguistics caramel map

can be found at Business Insider.


Note for Linguistics

by Dr Davis on August 23, 2015

Folks’ names were set, in pronunciation, sometimes before standardized spelling. (Note: standardized spelling came several hundred years after the printing press.)

Thus, you can have Coldiron as a last name, pronounced as cauldron in modern English.



by Dr Davis on June 30, 2015

Metaphors are not just for literature anymore.

The Guardian has an article on the Glasgow University research work on 13 centuries of metaphors. The map is cool, though the description is limited.

However, you can read the @MappingMetaphor blog and find details. The newest post on fear is interesting.

Indonesian Metaphorical Conceptualizations of Anger: Does Anger Taste Delicious or Disgusting? By Tessa Yuditha

Indonesian also has its own metaphorical expressions. Some of conventional Indonesian metaphors include Dia menjadi kambing hitam dalam kasus itu ‘He became the scapegoat in that case’, Jatuhnya harga saham membuat dia bangkrut ‘The fall in stock price made him bankrupt’ and Kata-katanya membuat aku meledak ‘His words made me blow up’.

The Guardian has an article on educational metaphors. I used this in a class recently and would like to discuss it again more thoroughly. Something that was particularly interesting to me:

“My teacher is an old cow.” What does this mean? How would you respond, as a teacher, if this were said about you?

The New York Times article This is Your Brain on Metaphors is also interesting. It says that your brain sometimes/often interprets metaphorical things literally.

In a remarkable study, Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto and Katie Liljenquist of Northwestern University demonstrated how the brain has trouble distinguishing between being a dirty scoundrel and being in need of a bath. Volunteers were asked to recall either a moral or immoral act in their past.