What is the difference between “a hearty welcome” and “a cordial reception”? In a brief, action-packed history of the English language, Kate Gardoqui explains why these semantically equal phrases evoke such different images.
Why is there a “b” in doubt?
Say the word “doubt” aloud. What is that “b” doing there? Does it have any purpose? Gina Cooke explains the long and winding history of “doubt” and why the spelling, though it seems random, is a wink to its storied past.
Making sense of spelling
What can spelling tell us about relationships between words? While spelling may sometimes seem random or unexpected, this lesson illuminates how peeling back the layers of spelling helps us understand the complex history and meaningful structure of words.
Who invented writing?
Speaking came thousands of years before writing. All writing that has developed since its invention can be traced back to two civilizations: Sumerian and Chinese. Matthew Winkler dissects the evolution of Sumerian cuneiform and explains the difference between writing those first symbols and simply drawing meaning.
Redefining the dictionary
Is the beloved paper dictionary doomed to extinction? In this infectiously exuberant talk, leading lexicographer Erin McKean looks at the many ways today’s print dictionary is poised for transformation. As the CEO and co-founder of new online dictionary Wordnik, Erin McKean is reshaping not just dictionaries but how we interact with language itself.