linguistics

Cool Finds

Teenage Girls Have Led Language Innovation for Centuries

They've been on the cutting edge of the English language since at least the 1500s

A screenshot of the Tone Analyzer at work

IBM's Tone Analyzer Could Save You From Sending That Awkward Email

The new service, part of IBM's Watson artificial intelligence system, scans emails for emotions like cheerfulness or negativity

A screen shot from a video about how Indo-European languages spread around the globe.

Cool Finds

Half of All Languages Come From This One Root Tongue. Here’s How it Conquered the Earth.

Today, three billion people speak Indo-European langauges

Gustavia, St. Barths

Cool Finds

St. Barts Is Like the Galapagos for Linguistic Diversity

Beyond the glitz of tourism, St. Barts natives speak in unique varieties of French

Cool Finds

How the Word “OK” Was Invented 175 Years Ago

OK is an editorial joke run wild

Why Does Rain Smell and More Questions From Our Readers

You asked, we answered

Noc (in 1995) strongly “wanted to make a connection,”  says former naval trainer Michelle Jeffries. “I think that was part of the thing behind him mimicking speech.”

The Story of One Whale Who Tried to Bridge the Linguistic Divide Between Animals and Humans

While captive in a Navy program, a beluga whale named Noc began to mimic human speech. What was behind his attempt to talk to us?

Russia and Alaska's current coastlines (the dashed black lines), compared to ancient Beringia (shown in green), the land bridge that brought humans to North America.

New Research

Ancient Migration Patterns to North America Are Hidden in Languages Spoken Today

Languages spoken in North America and Siberia are distantly related. What does that tell us about the first Americans?

Everybody in Almost Every Language Says “Huh”? HUH?!

What makes this utterance the “universal word”?

How Did Computers Uncover J.K. Rowling’s Pseudonym?

Forensic linguistics can use powerful programs to track written text back to its author

What Can Jeopardy Tell Us About Uptalk?

The game show offers clues about how the annoying tic got its start