Linguistics

General category for the study of written and spoken language across various cultures. This category indicates articles related to the science of linguistics, rather than just to a specific language (which would be indicated by the relevant culture or country name).

But really, Puddledub?

Chief researcher for a new study of Scottish place names, Dr Simon Taylor, says: "Scotland is a country where many different languages have been spoken over the last 1,500 years, and its place names reflect this rich and varied history. What we are doing is giving teachers the tools to explore Scotland's rich heritage."

45,000 English surnames now in database

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded Family Names of the United Kingdom Project has completed its first phase with 45,000 surnames, from the 11th to 19th centuries, researched and explained.

Wyoming college hosts Biduum Latinum

Latin is alive and well at Students at the college are required Wyoming Catholic College where students and professors recently participated in Biduum Latinum, a Latin immersion weekend, where everyone spoke only Latin. KCWY News 13 has the story.

Manx returns to the Isle of Man

Manx was once the endangered list. Not the cat - the language. But now a new generation of young people, such as singer Ruth Keggin, is doing its best to breathe new life into the speech of the people of the Isle of Man.

EtymArab created to help study history of the Arabic language

Stephan Guth, Professor of Arabic at the University of Oslo, has created EtymArab, an electronic database designed to collect and make available research on the history of the Arabic Language. The first part, containing 1,000 words and concepts, is now online.

Jotunvillur code cracked

The ancient Norse 'jotunvillur' code, dating back to the 12th or 13th century, has been cracked by Norwegian runologist  K Jonas Nordby of the University of Oslo. The key was an unassuming wooden stick, found at the the Bergen Wharf in Norway and covered with runes. (photo)

Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources completed

For the last one hundred years, scholars have been digging their way through documents in order to create the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, "the most comprehensive study ever" of medieval Latin vocabulary. The 16th and final volume of the dictionary was completed in early December 2013.

Ogham stones digitized in 3D

The iconic Ogham stones of Ireland are being digitized in 3D using Artec Studio 9 software thanks to the partnership of The Discovery Programme and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. The stones, bearing the Irish Ogham alphabet, will now be available to view in 3D online. (photos)

What's correct? Ax Chaucer

African-American dialect has often been criticized for the use of words such as "ax" instead if "ask," but critics may want to check their Chaucer, who used "ax" in his writing. Shereen Marisol Meraji of All Things Considered has the audio story.

Plotting the roots of Red

A recent article for Live Science analyzes the evolution of Little Red Riding Hood from its 1st century roots to its modern place in children's literature. The article follows the work of Durham University anthropologist Jamie Tehrani whose paper The Phylogeny of Little Red Riding Hood was published in the journal Plos One.

Mars discoveries tweeted in Latin

It's only fitting that Mars, the Roman god of war, would be the subject of NASA's first official venture into the world of Latin social media with photos of the surface of the planet taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). Latin captions were sent August 28, 2013 on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.

The history of the octothorpe and more

Modern social networkers will recognize the octothrope as the opening character of a hashtag, but the lowly punctuation mark has a noble history. In his book, Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks, Keith Houston looks at punctuation marks' roots from Greek, Roman and 14th century texts.

Latin alive and well in the cyber world

Latin, formerly known as the "dead language," seems to be alive and kicking in the digital age, according to a recent article in the Economist. Five words can often say more than ten English ones, notes David Butterfield, a Latinist at the University of Cambridge, making the language ideal for Twitter.

Irish Ogham stones digitized

Researchers of Ogham stones in Ireland may not have to actually travel to the country thanks to experts at the Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies, who have "used laser scanning equipment to capture and digitise more than 50 Ogham stones across the country." The Ogham 3D Project provides 3D images of Ogham stones from all around Ireland.

Swear like a Roman

Facility in swearing is either an admirable or a deplorable ability, but all can agree that it is a trait with a long history. In her new book, Holy Sh*t! A Brief History of Swearing, Melissa Mohr outlines the history of the practice with emphasis on Roman times. Olga Khazan of the Atlantic has a review. PG-13.

Experts use mathematics to study Pictish language

A new study, presented to the Royal Society A, by Rob Lee, Philip Jonathan and Pauline Ziman describes the Pictish inscriptions found on stones in Scotland as a language apart from Celtic Ogham. The characters on the stones are considered to "part of a lexigraphic writing, containing symbols that represent parts of speech.

Latin: Dead or alive?

The announcement of the new Pope in Rome has led some journalists to ponder if Latin really is a dead language. The Guardian's Style Blog jumps into the discussion.

Pope tweets

Ancient meets modern when Pope Benedict XVI tweeked his first message last month - in Latin. Since that time, the Pope has amassed 2.5 million followers.

What is honor?

A series of articles on the history of honor has been posted on the Art of Manliness website. The series looks at the concept from a male point of view, and begins with ideas of vertical vs horizontal honor.

Bye bye, Bythewood

The medieval surnames of England are disappearing. That means no more Bythewoods, Pauncefoots or Foothead, according to Debbie Kennett of the Guild of One-Name Studies, a group dedicated to investigating the origins and heritage of surnames.

Learn Latin and feed the hungry

Are you a compassionate person? Are you a person who enjoys practicing your Latin? You can be both on the Free Rice website where every right answer in a Latin language quiz wins 10 grains of rice for the World Food Program.

The ancient origins of the verb "to fart"

The English language contains a variety of words with sexual or scatological origins. Among them is the verb "to fart." In a blog entry for the Huffington Post, Anatoly Liberman, the author of Word Origins…And How We Know Them, discusses the origin of the verb. PG-13

Town councillor recruited to translate mysterious text

Workmen renovating a medieval house in St Katherine’s, England, have enlisted the help of a former mayor to translate the ancient text discovered on the ceiling. The writing is believed to be Latin.

Is American English More Period than British English?

Linguists have reconstructed how Elizabethan English sounded, and it is closer to some American pronunciations than current British ones. The modern British accent developed relatively recently -- late 1700s and early 1800s.

"Charlie" and "Al" change western grammar

In the 8th century, the literate began to use uppercase letters in their writing. According to business writing expert Stephen Wilburs, the change can be traced to Charlemagne (Charlie) and Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus (Al) as a means to make reading easier.

The myth of the "Tudor Era"

"The word 'Tudor' is used obsessively by historians," says Dr Cliff Davies of Oxford University "But it was almost unknown at the time." Davies research shows that the term "Tudor" was rarely used during the period.

English as linguistic "vacuum cleaner"

Linguist David Crystal loves the English language and its habit of adopting words from other languages. In a recent NPR interview, Crystal discusses English as a "vacuum cleaner of a language," and his book The Story of English in 100 Words. (audio)

Early Pict language identified in Scotland

Highly stylized rock engravings depicting soldiers, horses and figures, dating to the 4th through 9th centuries, have been identified as a written language developed by the Pict society of Scotland. (photo)

Oldest German runes found on comb

A second century comb, discovered several years ago in central Germany, may lead to the understanding of early Germanic languages. The carved antler comb bears the oldest engraved runes known in the area. (photo)

Website devoted to the study of Cyrillic and Glagolitic manuscripts

The Special Commission on the Computer-Supported Processing of Mediæval Slavonic Manuscripts and Early Printed Books has created a website to faciliate the study of Cyrillic and Glagolitic manuscripts and early printed books.