Category Archives: Language and Linguistics

Will climate change kill linguistic diversity? Or save it?

January 10, 2019 ||

Hidden in plain sight In 2010, I traveled to Los Angeles to meet thought leaders and funders, and raise awareness about the issue of plastic pollution – which at the time was a largely unknown problem, and one almost completely absent from the societal discussion and the mainstream media. At a fundraiser event, I happened […]

How Lev became Leo and Leon

January 3, 2019 ||

Proper nouns (names of unique things in the world, such as Berkeley and James) can be translated in the same way as common nouns (names of classes of things, such as city and person). For example, the same city in Ukraine is known as Lviv in English, Львів (L’viv) in Ukrainian, Львов (L’vov) in Russian, Lwów in Polish, and Lemberg […]

Rice that Sticks to the Pan

November 15, 2018 ||

The relationship between food and language can be fascinating. The idiosyncrasies of a culture’s cuisine are often reflected in its vocabulary, and it is common for food words in one language to lack direct translations into other languages due to the uniqueness of cuisines around the world. Of course, a culture can adopt other foods, […]

Palindrome reflections

October 11, 2018 ||

There are 54,270 palindromes within the 5,691 languages contained in the PanLex database. A sampling: ʻuhū ʻuhūʻuhū meaning “moan” in Hawaiian gilibilig meaning “soft” in Umbugarla (Australia) àyáyáyáyá meaning “low light” in Perge Tegu (Mali) eibohphobie meaning “fear of palindromes” in French بی عیب ـ بیعیب  or ba’eab ba’eab meaning “faultless” in Persian ibikíbiníbikíbi meaning “wherever” in Yoruba (Nigeria) aawalawaa meaning “get better” in Wayuu (Colombia) апоко́па or apokopa meaning “apocope” in […]