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When you start learning a new language, it can seem like nothing makes sense. The nouns don’t go in the right place, verbs change in incomprehensible ways, and the sentence structure is just plain dumb. But, in fact, all languages share a remarkably similar structure. Comparing human languages to the honeybee’s dance, for example, it’s […]

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Trying to make sense of linguistic terms can sometimes be a challenge. Especially when the terms are very similar in both meaning and sound. Such is the case with homonyms, homophones, and homographs. If you add to that list “homomorphs”, the confusion level increases exponentially. As with many technical terms, the differences between them are […]

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English might be the most common second language on the planet, but that certainly doesn’t mean that it’s the easiest language to learn. The maddening number of homonyms in English is enough to create confusion in anyone, learner and native speaker alike. The Internet crime of mixing up “your” and “you’re”, which many seem to […]

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2015 was a ground-breaking year. At least in the very narrow field of gender-neutral pronouns. It was 2015 that the American Dialect society picked the singular “they” as their word of the year. The use of “they” to denote a single person, without specifying their gender (as “he” and “she” do), has become under increased […]

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Words that resemble one another are common in all of the world’s languages. Through historical trade and relations with neighbouring countries, vocabulary elements have spread far and wide from their original locations. For example, “orange” comes to English from the Far East. The exact origin language is unknown, but it probably started in Telugu, Tamil, […]

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Every learner, who is not born into a tonal language, knows and dreads the difficulty of trying to learn a language that distinguishes meaning based on tone. The most famous examples of such languages are Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese languages (for example, Mandarin and Cantonese). Not surprisingly, they are all considered extremely difficult for English […]

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The idea that language shapes the way we think about the world seems almost self-evident. After all, aren’t all of our thoughts filtered through our native language? And it would stand to reason, in that case, that the filter of language itself creates a different life experience for the speakers of different tongues. Indeed, that […]

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