The Secret Life of Language: How Trademarks Change the Words We Choose

In the world of brand names, Escalators—or, should I say, Escalator-brand power-driven stair systems—are a cautionary tale. Theirs is not a unique story, either. Far from it. In vernacular English, Thermos has replaced vacuum flask, Dumpster has replaced trash receptacle, and Q-Tip has replaced cotton swab. The process, something wildly feared by many brands, is

The Secret Life of Language: The Pedantry Diagram

From the day I met him, I knew he liked fancy language. That’s hardly an unusual trait in the Tufts community; on my way to class this morning, I overheard obfuscate, copuis, and heteronormativity. And I’m guilty of this behavior, too: using especially long or complex words is as satisfying and delicious as the crunch

The Secret Life Of Language: A World Without Words

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor woke up one morning in 1996 with a terrible headache, but she decided to get on her cardio glider anyway. Since she didn’t experience pain that often, she figured that the best way to deal with it was to ignore it. They say that doctors make the worst patients, and based

The Secret Life of Language: How To Understand Gibberish

There’s a thirteen-year-old boy at a sleep-away camp in California, and he’s getting ready for bed. “Hey,” he says to his new roommate, pointing to a pair of fleece sweatpants on the floor. “Can you pass me my nightsuit?” His roommate looks at him with incredulous eyes. “Your what?” “My nightsuit,” the boy responds, oblivious.