ONLINE ETYMOLOGY RESEARCH Mirror on History (an etymology research dictionary) This is, according to the author of the online etymology dictionary, “a perspective on the living history of words and their respective meanings.” He (or she?) writes, “using a descending scale of nine ( H, I, U, S, N, M, R, C, P ) basic […]
AHH…URBAN LEGENDS! Urban legends, apocryphal e-mail tales and the like all say something both about the way we use language and why we use language. They mirror our insecurities the same way monsters and fairy tales do. The best always leave you wondering — even if you’re sure they’re fiction — mightn’t they be real? […]
THE EXPERIMENT Using the Alta Vista Babel Fish translation software, I translated a well-known passage from Hamlet into a number of different languages, then translated those translations back into English using the same software. The results were surprisingly good. The most bizarre translation result was the one from English to Korean to English. The best […]
Why not? Seriously, the spiral — the armature of DNA itself — is ubiquitous in nature, and beautiful in mathematics — almost inexplicably so. This has led to a variety of speculation and theorization, from the inspiring to the genuinely cracked. Does it prove God? Prove there’s no God? Prove that people simply have way […]
WHAT IT AIN’T We’ve all seen the wonderfully bizarre quality of computer translations of Web pages and the like. Oddly, there was just a program on artificial intelligence on NHPR today. This story, from Italy, provides is a good example of what artificial intelligence is not. “Paolo Bonaiuti, we learn from the Italian government’s official […]
memepool.com is, like the name suggests, full of units of odd units of cultural information transmitted verbally from one mind to another. I’m not entirely comfortable swimming in it, and certainly wouldn’t recommend looking at it. Which probably means you ought to look at it.