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Awesome Language

The History of Classic Tongue-Twisters

The History of Classic Tongue-Twisters

Growing up, the tongue-twister that always got us was “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.” Erin McCarthy from Mental Floss explains the origins of this classic and seven other tricky sentences created by cunning linguists to trip up our tongues. We’re wondering how many takes it took for Erin to get through all of these.

The Fascinating History of Fonts

The Fascinating History of Fonts

After looking at the variety of fonts on his computer, vlogger and documentarian struthless wanted to know more about their origins. But as he started to pull at that thread, he learned so much more – about the history of written language, design, pop culture, and communication.

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America’s Weirdest Place Names

America’s Weirdest Place Names

We’ve driven through some places with weird names like Hell, Michigan and the Bong Recreation Area in Wisconsin. Lost in the Pond studied a map of America to find more strange place names, and explained the history of their unusual monikers. Though Newfoundland has them all beat.

If English Was Spoken Like German

If English Was Spoken Like German

If you’ve ever taken a German lesson, you know that they often put verbs at the end of their sentences. Football player and filmmaker Nick Alfieri has been learning the language since moving to Germany and put together this amusing video that illustrates the big differences in English and German sentence structure.

Making Chinese Word Candies

Making Chinese Word Candies

Goldthread takes us inside a factory that makes special good fortune candies, each of which has a meaningful Chinese character in its center. Using soybean, black sesame, and maltose, their artisans handmake each rope of candy by stacking contrasting layers then stretching them smaller and smaller to reveal the letters.

An Alphabet Made of Dogs

An Alphabet Made of Dogs

Calligraphy is usually associated with fancy script handwriting on party invitations. But what if you’re throwing a party for your dog? Calligraphy expert Tohgutakumi has you covered. The artist created a hand-drawn typeface where every single letter is a dog. We’re kind of partial to the “Q” and “P.” He’s got a little something for cat lovers too.

Slang of the 1920s

Slang of the 1920s

Every decade, the words we use to describe things evolve. The 1920s Channel rewinds 100 years to examine the slang words and phrases that were in vogue at the time, including classics like “whoopee,” “zozzled,” and “heebie jeepbies.” We really want to bring back “and how!”

How to Read French without Knowing French

How to Read French without Knowing French

When you want to read another language, you usually have to learn that language. But RobWords shows us a three simple tricks that English speakers can use to comprehend written words in French without having to understand the vocabulary. We wonder if other Romance languages have similar hacks.

Speaking Without the Letter “E”

Speaking Without the Letter “E”

The English language relies heavily on the use of vowels to form words. So imagine if you couldn’t use the letter “E”. Comedian Matt Colbo spoke for more than three minutes straight without using the letter, and it wasn’t easy for him to articulate his thoughts. This 1939 book proves you could tell a 50,000 word story without it.

Phrases Originated by Shakespeare

Phrases Originated by Shakespeare

If you’ve ever been sent on a wild goose chase, had too much of a good thing, or told a “knock-knock” joke, you can thank William Shakespeare for it. Digg Video digs into some of the many commonly-used phrases what were first uttered in Shakespeare’s writing, along with their original context.

Slang Flashcards

Slang Flashcards
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Can’t keep up with today’s youth? It’s time to beef up your language skills with this informative deck of Slang Flashcards. Each of its 40 cards features a frequently-used slang word on one side, and an example of its use on the other. We recommend them a Hundo P.

How Zulu Clicks Work

How Zulu Clicks Work

Many tribes living in South Africa use clicking sounds as part of their languages. Sakhile Dube from Safari and Surf Wilderness Adventures offers up an informative and chill explanation of how the clicks are used in speech. He’s also posted a lesson on some conversational Zulu words that don’t use clicks.

The History of the English Language

The History of the English Language

English is one of the many Indo-European languages spoken in many parts of the world. Harrison Holt of The Generalist Papers looks at how our language evolved dramatically over the centuries and how it’s related to languages like German, Dutch, and Swedish.

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What Exactly Is “Normal” Anyhow?

What Exactly Is “Normal” Anyhow?

Narrow-minded people often call others out for not being normal. But is anyone really normal or typical? This TED-Ed lesson by Yana Buhrer Tavanier explores the history of the term and how its misuse has had a tremendously negative impact on society. Animated by Eoin Duffy.

PIPNIC

PIPNIC

Pip Ketchip and Nic Musterd are friends. One day, they stop to enjoy lunch outdoors and strike up a conversation about tap water, bicycles, vacuum cleaners, and bear attacks. And then The Fuzz turns up. Real Big Boys knocked it out of the park with their comedy sketch about homophones.

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen: Comma Placement Explained

God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen: Comma Placement Explained

Here’s a little Christmas song for the grammar and punctuation nerds out there. Enjoy as RamsesThePigeon sings an a cappella version of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen, and plays around with the comma placement to explain why it goes where it does.

Why Upper and Lower Case Letters Exist

Why Upper and Lower Case Letters Exist

We’re grateful to have lower case letters, if only to limit people typing in ALL CAPS. The Generalist Papers digs into the history of letterforms in the English language on a quest to explain why we have two different versions of every character in the alphabet.

Speakly

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Learn to confidently speak languages with Speakly’s smart training app. It automatically focuses on the most statistically-relevant words in order of importance, and its app lets you practice communicating in real-life situations from your phone or computer. Save 82% on a lifetime subscription.

Babbel Language Learning

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Ready to learn a new language? Babbel will help you go from zero to language hero with access to over 10,000 bite-sized lessons, covering real-life conversational topics in 14 different languages. Grab a lifetime subscription for 40% off the regular price.

Evolution of the Alphabet

Evolution of the Alphabet

UsefulCharts takes a look back at the 4000+ year history of Modern Latin Script, the letterforms and alphabet used today in English and many other languages. Along the way, you’ll learn about other forms of written communication which don’t use an alphabet. The chart is also available as a 24″ x 36″ poster print.

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Dead as a Doornail Explained

Dead as a Doornail Explained

We’ve all heard the expression “dead as a doornail,” but we certainly didn’t know its origin. History and weapon enthusiast Malcolm P.L. explains the true meaning of the phrase while demonstrating the building technique that inspired it.

American vs. British vs. Australian English

American vs. British vs. Australian English

Folks from the US, UK, and Australia all speak the same language, but there are clear differences in conversational speech. Language of Earth asked three English speakers to demonstrate the variations in accents, pronunciation, and terminology for some common words. Also, we feel like we just watched The Electric Company.

No Reading Allowed

No Reading Allowed
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From the authors of P Is for Pterodactyl comes a kids book about homophones, homonyms, and tricky punctuation. The playfully-illustrated book compares various words and phrases that sound the same but can have very different meanings, like “The hero had super vision” and “The hero had supervision.”

Interesting Acronyms & Initialisms

Interesting Acronyms & Initialisms

Let’s kick things off with a brief language lesson. An acronym is made up of parts of the phrase it stands for and pronounced as a word, while an initialism is a kind of acronym pronounced as its individual letters. With that cleared up, Mental Floss is here with 25 of the abbreviated phrases from “CAPTCHA” to “WD-40.”

It’s Pronounced GIF

It’s Pronounced GIF

It’s a debate that’s been raging since the first file was produced in CompuServe’s Graphical Interchange Format back in 1987. With the help of podcasters Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch, YouTube personality Tom Scott takes a couple of minutes to set us straight on the proper pronunciation of the popular “.GIF” file extension.

What the #[email protected]!% Are These?

What the #$@!% Are These?

While we’re perfectly content to use actual swear words, for many years, they’ve been off-limits for use in most public-facing entertainment. Vox looks back at how random punctuation marks became the universal symbol for so-called “obscene” words.

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