Articles on Language

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If only there were one that fit. Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images

What makes something ironic?

Irony is a slippery concept. Sometimes it's used in speech, other times it's used to describe a situation – oh, and it can also characterize an attitude. Is its versatility its downfall?
‘I want to produce such an impression of utter weariness and ennui that my readers will imagine the book could only have been written by a cretin,’ Flaubert wrote. Photo by Nadar / ullstein bild via Getty Images

We’re living in the bizarre world that Flaubert envisioned

Is a 19th-century French author’s cosmic joke turning into a real-life global nightmare?
The American Dialect Society chose ‘they’ as its ‘Word of the Decade.’ abstract_art7/Shutterstock.com

For linguists, it was the decade of the pronoun

Pronouns rarely, if ever, change. Then along came the gender nonbinary 'they,' which was just anointed ‘word of the decade.’
Baboons make sounds, but how does it relate to human speech? Creative Wrights/Shutterstock.com

Examining how primates make vowel sounds pushes timeline for speech evolution back by 27 million years

Researchers say it's time to finally discard a decades-old theory about the origins of human language – and revise the date when human ancestors likely were able to make certain speech noises.

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