Tag Archives: language

Word Nerd: German, the original hashtag language

4 Dec

You know how hashtags work. A hashtag is a hash sign followed by a word. Sometimes a phrase is compounded into a single word. People can intuitively understand its meaning from either the word itself or the context. Sometimes, though, it’s possible to take it #TooFar #BeyondAllReason #DoesItEvenMakeAnySenseAnyMore #ICantEven. Well, if you thought this was […]

Word Nerd: 5 colorful expressions that are not really about color

13 Nov

Color can mean a lot of things besides the wavelengths that reach your retina. It can refer to embellished rhetoric, or imparting a certain tone to a story. In music, it can refer to timbre, which is what enables us to distinguish a note played on a violin from the exact same note played on […]

Word Nerd: 5 Aztec words that you definitely know

6 Nov

Technically, the language spoken by the Aztecs is known as Nahuatl, and there are many variants of it. It’s the language Europeans heard in the 16th century, when they first arrived in the great city of Tenochtitlan (the site of today’s Mexico City). Nahuatl has been spoken for more than 1,000 years in Mexico, where […]

Word Nerd: 5 words that are their own opposites

23 Oct

Even if you don’t know Hawaiian, you’ve probably heard the word ‘aloha’ and know it is used as both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’. The Italian ‘ciao’ is similar. In Hindi, ‘kal’ can mean either yesterday or tomorrow, which probably goes a long way in explaining Indian attitudes towards deadlines. Such words with two opposite meanings are […]

Word Nerd: 7 words of wisdom that India gifted to the English language

16 Oct

Language and history often go hand in hand. The words we use – or don’t use – often contain fascinating stories within them that carry a good deal of meaning beyond the dictionary definition. Here are a few – feel free to add some of your own in the comments! 1. Ahimsa This Sanskrit word […]

Word Nerd: An English-speaker’s guide to funny Americanisms

25 Sep

By now, many Americanisms have crept into English around the world, thanks to pop culture and Microsoft Word. Perhaps you say ‘restroom’ for ‘toilet’. Or you may be one of those people who say ‘from left field’ even though they’ve never played baseball. And you probably know that a ‘cheeseburger’ is a mere shadow of […]

Word Nerd: How the passive voice can ruin your college application

11 Sep

It is well known that the passive voice should be avoided. The question is, who does the well-knowing and the avoiding? The answer, of course, is you and me. But it’s not always that obvious. When to use the passive voice First, without getting bogged down in a yawn-inducing grammar lesson, let’s look at what […]

Word Nerd: 5 zany words with a z that will expand your vocabulary

28 Aug

Z is the 26th and final letter of the English alphabet. Not a whole lot of words start with a z, only about 0.45%. But that’s no reason to miss out on this exclusive tribe of words. For this week’s edition of Word Nerd, we bring you 5 words that start with the last letter […]

Word Nerd: The silliest languages of the internet

21 Aug

In the beginning was the word, and the word was LOL, and from it, all memes were made. First came the cat jokes. They soon became so popular that even this €5.6 billion telecom company felt that this was a good way to impress people: The story goes back to 2006, when a Hawaii-based software […]

Word Nerd: 10 quirky words starting with a Q you will enjoy

31 Jul

Think of a word that begins with q (queen, queue, quintessential, querulous). Chances are you’ll flounder and fumble after you’ve listed 4-5. And you’re not alone. Q is one of the least popular initial letters in the English language. Approximately only 0.22% words start with an q. Keeping it company are the alphabets k (0.45%), […]