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Day: September 5, 2016
Why is the word “the” declining in English?
https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=the&amp;year_start=1800&amp;year_end=2000&amp;corpus=15&amp;smoothing=3&amp;share=&amp;direct_url=t1%3B%2Cthe%3B%2Cc0 The drop is indeed puzzling, but unlike Brian Collins I don’t think it reflects an actual change in English usage (such as the perishing of the encyclopaedic the—that wouldn’t make that much of a dint). I also don’t think Second Language Learner English would make such a dint. It’s about the representation of texts […]
Linguistics: Why do interjections differ?
Because, contrary to what you might think, interjections are not always pure spontaneous exclamations from deep in the neural cortex, that are universal to all humans. A few are; as I noted in Nick Nicholas’ answer to Are there any short expletives that sound the same in different languages? Nick Enfield [Page on sydney.edu.au] (who […]
Does the Greek word for Palaces, Megara, come from the Aramean word Magharat or Zagharat “caves”?
Maybe. There is a plural megara word in ancient Greek, which means “a kind of crypt into which live pigs were thrown during the Thesmophoria festival”. This is related by both Chantraine and Frisk to Hebrew me‘ārā “cavern”, meaning it is Semitic (in all likelihood), and thus related to Arabic Magharat. The singular megaron “hall” […]
Do some incorrect or imprecise terms stick just because English language hasn’t better options?
Never, never, ever underestimate the power of inertia. In the instance you cite, of sex addiction vs compulsivity: the distinction is itself fairly new, and the use of the description to describe the patient has not yet stabilised, because the notion of compulsion as a medical condition has not been pervasive. So there’s a huge […]
Are there certain types of words that humans remember far easier than others?
Shulamit Widawsky is right about the emotive loading of words affecting their memorability. In the specific context of dirty words, you may well have been highly motivated to learn them. (There’s always keen motivation to learn dirty words in foreign languages, as evidenced here on Quora.) If you were strongly motivated and were delighted by […]