• octothorpe, hashtag, number sign

    What Is the Real Name of the #?

    On Facebook and Twitter, you tag your friends with the @ symbol and topics with the #. If you see something that says #WordoftheDay, the tweet or post will concern the Word of the Day in some way. But what do you call the # symbol? Where did it come from? Its myriad names and […]

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  • Linguists recently found an Indo-European language hiding in rural Pakistan. Learn its story here.

    At some point you’ve heard about the concept of language “families.” Generally, common sense defines how language relationships work: geographic neighbors often share a common ancestor. If this story were consistent, however, there wouldn’t be anything interesting for us to talk about. Take for example, this amazing discovery stemming from 20 years of research.

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  • Heat and Thunder in the NBA Finals: A Grammatical Nightmare

    Why do the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder sound so odd? Most sports teams—the Bulls, the Knicks, the Lakers, the Celtics—are ordinary plurals. However, the Heat and the Thunder are mass nouns; they are unquantifiable. You cannot have five thunders or three heats, even though there are 12 players on a roster.

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  • Can you see the difference between those symbols?

    Though one of the least-used letters, X has a remarkable way of getting attention. Last year we talked about the varied uses of X: Gen X, Xbox, XOXO, the X chromosome. British dramatist Ben Jonson wanted to remove the 24th letter from the alphabet

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  • When Dictionaries Attack: How Hackers Use Dictionaries to Guess Passwords

    It seems like there’s always a new story on millions of passwords being hacked. Each attack feels personal, especially if you’re one of the many people that has one password across several sites, whether it’s Facebook or LinkedIn, e-mail or a bank account. And since one way hackers fish out passwords is by using a […]

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  • Obscure language isolate will die with this woman

    Seventy-five-year-old Gyani Maiyi Sen is the only native fluent speaker of Kusunda in the world, and linguists are rushing to record the unique language. Around the globe languages are dying rapidly as more and more people are learning global languages instead of maintaining their native tongues.

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