The Tsimane People of the Amazon (pronounced chee-MAH-nay, roughly) hunt, farm, and forage. They don’t have a lot of technology. And if you talk to them about the colours they see in the world, they say some pretty interesting things…In the world of colour research, that’s unusual to the point of uniqueness. Across languages and cultures, people tend to break up “colorspace,” the universe of all the colours humans see, in roughly the same way—different words, sure, but for mostly the same colors
In his irreverent 1906 masterpiece, The Devil’s Dictionary, the 19th-century American writer Ambrose Bierce took aim at all manner of human hypocrisies, sins and shortcomings by penning a lexicon of cynical word definitions for a cynical age. In the latest instalment of The Devil’s Guide, we channel Bierce’s sardonic spirit to explore the true meanings of the jargon and fancy Latin terms that litter the landscape of the law.
You might not have thought so when you were struggling through your Spanish class at school, but as we get older, most of us come to appreciate the wonder that is language. It’s one of the few things that distinguishes us from other animals, and each of the 6,000 languages in the world today embodies the rich history and culture of its speakers.
In a few decades, statistical analysis of literature has gone from crackpot theorising to cutting-edge research
Obscene language presents problems, the linguist Michael Adams writes in his new book, In Praise of Profanity, “but no one seems to spend much time thinking about the good it does.” Actually, a lot of people in the last few decades have been considering its benefits, together with its history, its neuroanatomy, and above all its fantastically large and colourful word list.