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Articles on Words

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Protesters wave a flag at Parliament Hill in Ottawa at a “Cancel Canada Day” protest in response to the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at Indian Residential Schools. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle

Indian Residential School tragic discoveries see calls for action, but words can make a difference too

People often decry words and call for action after tragic events. But words are action and they’re fundamental to Canadian democracy.
Humans are constantly changing our languages in terms of sounds, words, meanings, and grammar, so much so that it becomes increasingly difficult to understand our own distant relatives across time and space. (Unsplash/Lucrezia Carnelos)

Curious Kids: How are languages formed?

A young reader asks: How are languages formed?
Communication between people would be very difficult, if not impossible, without discursive memory. Our memories allow us to understand each other or to experience irreconcilable differences. (Shutterstock)

Why some words hurt some people and not others

Because of context and history, some words and phrases carry a heavy burden with them. Their mere mention can bring back painful memories and problematic situations.
Talking politics increasingly seems like an exercise in talking past one another. GeorgePeters/Getty Images

Fox News viewers write about ‘BLM’ the same way CNN viewers write about ‘KKK’

Using machine learning to study over 85 million YouTube comments, a research team has, for the first time, identified linguistic differences among cable news viewers.
The coronavirus forced the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary to break with tradition. Illustration by Anurag Papolu/The Conversation; dictionary photo by Spauln via Getty Images and model of COVID-19 by fpm/iStock via Getty Images

How COVID-19 is changing the English language

Updates to the Oxford English Dictionary provide a fascinating glimpse into how language changes in the face of rapid and unprecedented social and economic disruption.
Every known culture on Earth has special words for kids to call their parents. XiXinXing via Getty Images

Why do kids call their parents ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’?

One anthropologist found 1,072 similar words for ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ in the world’s languages. It turns out a mix of biology, culture and encouragement from parents explains this phenomenon.
It’s a simple word with a strange history. Andrii Oleksiienko/shutterstock.com

Why do we say ‘OK’?

The word ‘OK’ has only been around for 180 years, but it’s become the most spoken word on the planet.

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