language
Why Are Some People Better at Learning Multiple Languages Than Others?

Some people pick up languages like colds, or sunburns – without effort, through simple immersion in the atmosphere. Others can’t hear the word ‘conjugate’ without flashing back, in shame, to the classrooms where they failed, so long ago, to shake the curse of monolingualism. What exactly is it that allows the first group to stride around making small talk in Spanish and reading Kafka in the German while the rest of us struggle with just one language? For this week’s Giz Asks, we reached out to a number of language experts to find out. Read More >>

language
Apostrophe Policeman Quits Explaining to a Disinterested World

Self-employed internet apostrophe overlord John Richards is giving it all up, for two reasons; he's 96 years old FFS, and has reached the point where he doubts people will ever truly learn or appreciate the difference between kid's and kids'. Read More >>

language
Examiners Told to Go Easy on French and German GCSE Students

UK students are taking foreign languages at GCSE level in ever-lower numbers, and one reason for this, according to education regulator Ofqual, is that it's harder to get the highest grades in French and German because of the way they're exactingly marked. So the solution is to make them a little easier. Read More >>

language
App-Learning Boosts Interest in the Welsh Language

The addition of Welsh to the language banks of universal translator and smartphone language tutor Duolingo has been a success, with the number of people attempting to get their head around the complexities of the language up by around a third year-on-year. Read More >>

star wars
‘Jedi’ Just Got a Dictionary Definition, Which Feels Weird, Given Everything Happening in Star Wars Right Now

At a time when the Star Wars movies and tie-in materials are now more than ever questioning the legacy of the Jedi – and what it means to be a Jedi – there is a certain irony to there now being a literal dictionary definition of what a Jedi is. Read More >>

science
Why Scientists Trained a Seal to Sing the Star Wars Theme

Listening to grey seals recite vowel sounds and sing the melodies to Star Wars and 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' makes for excellent entertainment, but for the researchers who trained these aquatic mammals, it’s serious science. Read More >>

game of thrones
Game of Thrones Language Builder David Peterson is Working on Denis Villeneuve’s Dune

The man who crafted the languages of Essos for HBO’s Game of Thrones is heading to Arrakis. Dothraki and Valyrian language builder David J. Peterson is doing language work for Denis Villeneuve’s highly-anticipated Dune. Now, how do you say “the spice must flow” in High Valyrian? Read More >>

tv
American Kids Develop English Accents Because of Peppa Pig

Britain has scored a rare cultural victory against the US with the news that a load of precocious American children have started sounding English because they watch too much Peppa Pig. Read More >>

alexa
O2 and Alexa Have a Fun Festive Youth Speak Quiz

If you have one of those speakers you talk to as your main friend, here's a fun thing to do for a few minutes over Christmas -- an Alexa skill that explains common youth-slash-internet terminology and frames it as an enjoyable quiz for the the family. FML, eh, everyone? Read More >>

science
Toddlers and Chimpanzees Share a Surprising Unspoken Language

Prior to developing the capacity for speech, toddlers communicate their desires, demands, and discontent using a diverse repertoire of physical gestures. As a new study shows, there’s a significant amount of overlap between the gestures employed by human children and those made by other ape species, a finding that’s casting new light on the origin of primate communication. Read More >>

books
After 500 Years, Someone’s Finally Made Progress at Cracking the Voynich Manuscript

Chances are you've heard about the Voynich Manuscript, a book seemingly detailing some of the finer points of botany that nobody can actually read. While some have claimed it's a fake, the book has been around for centuries and has stood up to even the most aggressive code-breaking techniques as people try and decipher its contents. Read More >>

watch this
The Fascinating History of 10 Extra Letters the English Alphabet Used to Have

At 26 letters long, the English alphabet isn’t the most complicated string of symbols and characters to master, even for a five-year-old. But that’s because it has been put on a strict diet over the years that helped it slim down and shed 10 additional letters that were either deemed superfluous, redundant, or just downright confusing. Read More >>

fake news
Collins Dictionary Names ‘Fake News’ as Word of the Year

Criticise Donald Trump? That's obviously fake news. Said something a random commenter didn't like? Also fake news. Given how much use of the term has grown over the past year, it's hardly surprising that Collins Dictionary has declared 'fake news' to be its word of the year. Even though it's actually two words. Read More >>

linguistics
University Researchers Want Us To Use ‘Forgotten’ Words

Presumably fed up with the youth of today using txt spk and nonsense slang, a team of academics at University of York have dug up a list of old words that they hope to see getting used again. Read More >>

language
Researchers Are Sorry They Used ‘Derpy’ in a Research Paper

Much like the universally true advice to “never tweet,” it’s probably a good idea to just avoid internet language and memes when you’re working in a professional capacity. Two well-intentioned researchers learned that the hard way recently when they didn’t do enough research on the term “derpy.” Read More >>