Browsing All posts tagged under »language«

Deciding What Words Mean is a Heavy Responsibility. Luckily, There’s Macaroni.

June 24, 2014 by



We Need This Word in English

May 14, 2014 by



Maid, Mother, Crone

July 30, 2013 by


I want to ask your opinion on something: What freight, if any, do the words ‘girl’, ‘young woman’ and ‘woman’ have for you — in relation to both the person referred to and the person speaking? For instance, if someone (say a person in their early twenties) referred to a person whose name they didn’t […]


May 27, 2013 by


i tried to write about your eyes but i ran out of cliches i tried to say you plainly but there wasn’t enough truth whoever invented this language didn’t anticipate you   — Joshua, blank slate  

This is Meaningless

November 26, 2012 by


You know how if you say a word often enough it ceases to have any meaning and becomes just a weird collection of syllables that you start to wonder who put in that order? Okay. Have you ever noticed how titles do the same thing? It’s like they only mean something the first time you […]

Signifying the Signified

September 4, 2012 by


Some people seem convinced that learning a new language is a simple act of learning new combinations of syllables to signify an already rigid meaning as determined by one’s own language, that summer is the same thing as été or samhraidh, only pronounced somewhat differently. This, of course, is not true. Learning a new language […]

I Know It When I See It?

August 15, 2012 by


I never came across formal grammar in school until I started learning a foreign language. And then it was like ‘these are verbs, these are adjectives, and this is the wacky way they use them in French’. I was never taught English grammar in school. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t teach it. My […]

Not Language but a Map

April 12, 2012 by


The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart by Jack Gilbert How astonishing it is that language can almost mean, and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say, God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according to which nation. French has no word for home, and […]

Revera Linguam Latinam Vix Cognovi

December 2, 2011 by


I can’t speak French. I also can’t speak Latin and a lot of other languages. But it’s those first two that bother me the most. Latin because I’m unreasonably fond of it and like to make bad jokes that nobody understands and French because I’ve quit learning French four times. In year two, in year […]

Do You Ever Do That Thing Where You’re Looking at a Word or Hearing a Word And All of a Sudden it Ceases to Have Meaning?*

November 14, 2011 by


You’re staring at this bizarre combination of syllables and thinking, What is that even? How is that supposed to convey anything? Why are those sounds or letters in that order? That’s not even language. Which, I suppose, is fair. After all language is only words or letters that convey meaning. In that moment they don’t […]