Grammar’s great divide: The Oxford comma

If you read “Bob, a DJ and a clown” on a guest list, are three people coming to the party, or only one? That depends on whether you’re for or against the Oxford comma — perhaps the most hotly contested punctuation mark of all time. When do we use one? Can it really be optional, or is there a universal rule? TED-Ed explores both sides of this comma conundrum.

View full lesson:

Lesson by TED-Ed, animation by Zedem Media.

via TED Education.

Questions of Doom: The Importance of Writing?

Today, we examine the relationship between writing and civilization.

Welcome to Questions of Doom. In this series, we answer your questions about Archaeology and our shared heritage.

via Archaeos0up.

Could Neanderthals Talk Like Us?

Neanderthals, an ancient cousin-species to humans, lived for a while at the same time as Homo Sapiens. Could this now-extinct species talk just like you and I do? Trace is here to tell you about a tiny bone found in Neanderthals and modern humans might hold the answer.

via DNews Channel.

English Is Crazy!

via asapscience:

Seriously… it’s an insane language. And this is exactly why!

Richard Lederer’s “Crazy English”
Richard Krogh’s “The English Lesson”

Interesting Origins of Words: Bikini, Days of the Week, SOS

Did you know that the word Bikini is associated with the detonation of an atomic bomb? Or did you know that despite the popular belief, SOS does NOT stand for “Save Our Ship”? Or what was the reason behind the names of different days of the week? Click on each image to find out the interesting story behind the origin of that word!

Swimsuits used to be designed in a conservative manner, covering a large part of the body. In July 1946, a French designer introduced a bold new design that revealed the woman’s navel for the first time. He chose the name “Bikini” for it, after the Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, where United States had performed a nuclear test few days earlier. He hoped that this new swimsuit would have explosive commercial and cultural reaction. Public responded positively to the new name and it became widely accepted.

Some have associated the distress signal SOS with phrases such as “save our ship”. Interestingly, SOS is not an abbreviation or an acronym and doesn’t stand for anything.
SOS was chosen by the German government in 1905, because it could be translated into a simple Morse code message of three dots, three dashes and three dots.
This simple code remained the maritime radio distress signal until 1999.

Days of the Week are named after gods and goddesses
The Goddess of the Sun is the main reason behind the naming of Sunday.
Monday has its roots in Old English and means the Moon’s day. The moon used to be personified as a god.
Tuesday means the day of Tyr and is named after the God of war and law, Týr .
Wednesday is named after Woden, the God of Fury.
Thursday is named after Thor, the God of Thunder and Strength.
Freya, the Goddess of Love and Beauty is the motivation behind the naming of Friday.
And Finally, Saturday is named after the God of Saturn.

via Fact XTract.

Never Call Someone “Tired and Emotional” In England

There’s a famous British euphemism: “tired and emotional”. Which means drunk. But if you’re being recorded, or writing down your thoughts, you might want to stay away from it - because the British legal system is terrifying.

via Tom Scott.

15 Food Words That Don’t Refer to Food

A deliciously puntastic (and admittedly ridiculous) cocktail of two of Cristen’s favorite things: etymology and food.

via Stuff Mom Never Told You.

40 Weird Word Origins

This week, John looks at the weird origins of 40 words such as “noon,” “denim,” and “mortgage.”

via Mental Floss Video.

Why are bad words bad?

Cristen explains why certain words have bad reputations and how people tend to start swearing by age TWO.

via Stuff Mom Never Told You.

When did “douchebag” become an insult?

Cristen talks marijuana and man boobs and the evolution of calling jerks “douchebags.”

via Stuff Mom Never Told You.

How Do Accents Work?

Have you ever wondered how accents work? Tune in to this episode of BrainStuff to find out about the ever-evolving accent.

via Brain Stuff.

Making Flaps Vibrate In Your Throat: Voicing

There’s an interesting thing about English that hardly anyone thinks about. There are two “th” sounds. And if you want to know why it took me twenty-one takes to record this intro, you try switching them round.

Directed by Matt Gray - - @unnamedculprit
Filmed at YouTube Space, London

via .

Hardest Tongue Twister in the World!

Say this five times fast: She sells seashells by the seashore. Or: If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. But these famous tongue twisters are nothing compared to a new one created by MIT researchers who claim they’ve created the hardest tongue twister ever! Anthony and Trace see if they’re right.

via DNews Channel.

Adjectival Order: Why A “Big Red Balloon”, not a “Red Big Balloon”?

The order of adjectives is one of those wonderful linguistic things that no-one really notices until it’s pointed out to them.

via Tom Scott.

Why Do We Have “Ye Olde”? Obsolete Letters, and the Mysteries of Ye Olde Ming

Why do we say “Ye Olde”? Why is “Menzies” pronounced “Mingis”? To find out, we have to go back into history.

via Tom Scott.