A is for Bee

A is for BEE: An Alphabet Book in Translation, by Ellen Heck, is a delightful alphabet book for children. Each page lists one or more words starting with the same letter and has bright pictures illustrating each word. The pages are in alphabetical order. This is an alphabet book with a twist: each page lists…… Continue reading A is for Bee

Does your first language affect the structure of your brain?

There are some differences between the brains of German speakers and Arabic speakers. Why do those differences arise? It seems to be because these 2 languages place different processing demands on some parts of the brain. Those conclusions emerge from a recent paper Native language differences in the structural connectome of the human brain, by…… Continue reading Does your first language affect the structure of your brain?

Untranslatable words

People are endlessly fascinated by words that are claimed to be untranslatable. A recent request by the American dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster led to many suggestions of words that are untranslatable. On 28 February 2023, the publisher tweeted a question: ‘Non-native English Speakers, what’s a word from your language that you think is perfect that doesn’t…… Continue reading Untranslatable words

Do swear words contain some sounds more often?

A recent study suggests that approximants—sounds such as /l/; /r/; /w/; and /y/—appear less often in swear words than they do in other words. The paper is The sound of swearing: Are there universal patterns in profanity?, by Shiri Lev-Ari and Ryan McKay (2022) published online in December 2022 by the experimental psychology journal Psychonomic…… Continue reading Do swear words contain some sounds more often?

Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt

An exhibition at the British Museum recounts how Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was first deciphered in the first 2 decades of the 19th century, using the Rosetta Stone and other inscriptions and texts.  Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt is on until 19 February. https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/hieroglyphs-unlocking-ancient-egypt       The rest of this post covers: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and…… Continue reading Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt

Earliest known alphabetic script

A recently discovered inscription on an ivory comb is the earliest known example of alphabetic writing. The comb was found in Lachish (Israel) and bears an inscription in an early Canaanite script. The 17 letters, in early pictographic style, form seven words expressing a plea against lice. A report on this find is in A…… Continue reading Earliest known alphabetic script