Wondering about wild grapes

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Wondering about Language

If you are a follower of my blogs, you know in the past I have wondered about the spelling and pronouncing of words and the English language rules, or lack of, so you may not be surprised that I again have something to say about language.

Actually, I just read in my November 2010 issue of DISCOVER magazine “20 things you didn’t know about language”. DISCOVER always has “20 things you didn’t know about . . .” on the last page of their magazine every month. I do so enjoy it and I usually learn something interesting. Here is a link to all the past articles back through 2006. Enjoy: http://discovermagazine.com/columns/20-things-you-didnt-know

I am going to give you a few samples of the latest 20 things. Did you know that the human voice box sits lower in the throat than it does in other primates, giving us a uniquely large resonating system? That’s why we alone are able to make the wide range of sounds needed for speech.

Unfortunately, the placement of our voice box means we can’t breathe and swallow at the same time, as other animals can. Fortunately, the human voice box doesn’t drop until about 9 months, which allows infants to breathe while nursing.

Modern technology is making everything smaller, even our words. “Bits of eight” shrank to become byte, “modulate/demodulate” became modem, “picture cell” became pixel, and of course “web log” became blog.

This is just a short sample. Maybe you should get the magazine and read the rest of them. They are all interesting, like the longest word recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary. No, I’m not going to tell you what it is. . .


  1. BUT!!! Do we really know what it is that we don't know?

  2. I know I learn something new each and every day! I never knew how much I didn't know before!

    Used to think I was pretty smart...now I know the truth!

  3. It irritates me no end, to c all the errors in spelling on public signs, etc. and I've laughed over the 2 men going around the usa correcting it. lol On here i use text language.
    now, that excludes the really funny 1s!

  4. Ben, I don't know what I don't know what I don't know. . .

    Jim, you are smart, smart enough to know you don't know it all. Only dumb people and some bloggers know everything.

    Trouble, Since I can't spell very well, I didn't notice.

  5. I didn't realise there were only 20 things I didn't know about language DD. I thought there were at least 43. But there you go. I'm mistaken again...

  6. Well Kieth, maybe you know 2.15 languages, that would be 20 apiece. Actually, I guess that article in "Discover" should be titled "at least 20 things you didn't. know. . ."!

    If I remember, I will put the longest word in the dictionary in tomorrow's blog.

  7. I make a habit of learning most swear words in every language. It's got me out of trouble many times..... and into trouble just as many times. :)

    Language... well, when I was in school English was my favourite topic. A teacher who disliked me didn't let me enrol into the top class in English, so I annoyed her on a daily basis, asking silly questions like "Why is Wednesday spelt Wed-Nes-Day?", "Can you explain why "they're", "their" and "there" are spelt the way they are? Why isn't "there" spelt "they're....." and so on.

    I knew the answer. But her reaction told me she didn't. So, one day when we were asked to write an essay on any topic we wanted.

    I wrote about their, they're and there. Explaining in detail the difference. I failed because I was told that I researched it and the essay was suppose to be from memory.

    Another reason I never liked school.

  8. I posted a blog entry in my blog based on your comment that I should. :)