linguistics

Cool Finds

Researchers Want to Revive These 30 Antique English Words

The public can vote on their favorite from a list including hugger-mugger, rouzy-bouzy, nickum and sillytonian

Everyone sees them all, but we don’t all give them the same distinct names.

The World Has Millions of Colors. Why Do We Only Name a Few?

Cognitive scientists suggest that we name the colors of things we want to talk about

Mutineers walk in on a chaplain "with a smoking pistol in his hand" in the Arthur Conan Doyle short story "The Adventure of the Gloria Scott."

Thank Sherlock Holmes for the Phrase 'Smoking Gun'

From its origins to modern day, the favorite cliché of detectives and journalists everywhere refuses to kick the bucket

Anthony Burgess at the PEN International 1985 in Lugano

Trending Today

Anthony Burgess' Legendary Dictionary of Slang Lives

The author and linguist gave up the book after realizing how enormous the task of keeping up with slang would be

A new app, developed by two college students, coaches you on your public speaking.

An App to Make You a Better Public Speaker

Orai, created by two college students, uses AI to help people become more fluent, confident speakers through consistent practice and feedback.

Sometimes when we say "you," we really mean "me"

New Research

When I Say "You" But Really Mean "Me"

In some cases, the use of the second-person pronoun could help us put distance between ourselves and negative emotions

Microscope not included.

Cool Finds

This Necklace Contains All of the World’s Languages

Because cultural preservation never goes out of fashion

Don't see a word you like? Make one up!

Austria

Austria’s Word of the Year Has 52 Letters

<i>Bundespraesidentenstichwahlwiederholungsverschiebung</i> isn’t just a mouthful—it tells an annoying political story

How does language influence our thoughts? Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in "Arrival."

Ask Smithsonian 2017

Does the Linguistic Theory at the Center of the Film ‘Arrival’ Have Any Merit?

We asked a Smithsonian linguist and an anthropologist to debate the matter

New Research

Researchers Find Word Optimism Is Linked to National Misery

Even Pollyanna changes her tune in times of war and economic hardship

The Evpatoria radio telescope RT-70 and the Long Range Space Communications Center, which were used for one of the most ambitious efforts at extraterrestrial communication.

How a Couple of Guys Built the Most Ambitious Alien Outreach Project Ever

You might think it takes vast governmental resources to launch an extraterrestrial communication effort. Nope

The only one who really understands me.

New Research

Dogs Know When You're Praising Them. That Doesn't Mean They Understand Human Speech

A dose of caution with the results of an intriguing new study

A selection of "Emotikis" inspired by Maori culture and traditions.

Age of Humans

Emotikis and New Keyboards Bring Indigenous Cultures to Text Messaging

From Maori emojis to First Nations languages

A set of the volumes published by 2010 of the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae

Cool Finds

This Latin Thesaurus Has Been in Progress Since 1894

Scholars are still working on the letter "N"

A club from Massachusetts in the shape of a fish, probably Atlantic sturgeon, dates to about 1750. The area was previously thought to have only one language at the time of European contact, but new research reveals there were five Native American languages were spoken in the Connecticut Valley of central Massachusetts.

Five Lost Languages Rediscovered in Massachusetts

Smithsonian linguist Ives Goddard finds that the Native Americans of central Massachusetts spoke five languages instead of one

Only about 2,000 people speak Lakota.

Cool Finds

This News Website Is a Lakota-Speaker’s “Dream”

Woihanble.com could help preserve a threatened language

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Here’s Why French People Are Getting Riled Up About the Circumflex

Little accent, big debate

New research shows that magical tales have an even longer history than previously suspected.

New Research

Fairy Tales Could Be Older Than You Ever Imagined

Jack may have been climbing that beanstalk for more than 5,000 years

Cool Finds

There’s a Philly Sign Language Accent

The unique signs used by people in Philadelphia hint at the history of sign language in the U.S.

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"Full Blood Resurrection" and Other Gaming Terms Are Entering Chinese Vernacular

As online gaming is so popular in China, it’s changing the way people talk.