How Moving to England Cured My ‘American Verbal Inferiority Complex’

The Beauty of Rule-Based American English Is That It's More Democratic Than the Brits' Version

I had lived in England for three years when Eats, Shoots and Leaves struck in 2003. English writer Lynne Truss’ “zero tolerance approach to pronunciation” became a British publishing phenomenon—helped along by its fun title and its naming and shaming of proofreading sins. By that time, I’d begun learning the many ways in which U.K. punctuation norms differ from my native American, and I was working to become a punctuation “bilingual” so that I could more appropriately correct the work of my British students.

So I was bemused when the …

Chimpanzee Behavior Isn’t Just Monkey Business. It’s Culture.

Grooming, Using Tools, and Fishing for Termites Show the Humanity of Our Primate Cousins

In 1961, famed primatologist Jane Goodall discovered that wild chimpanzees were fashioning tools from sticks and using them to fish termites out of their nests—revolutionizing our understanding of culture and …

The Sanitized Rhetoric That Makes Nuclear War More Likely

To Rid the Planet of Atomic Weapons, We Should Dismantle the Language That Makes Them Possible

The nuclear age began 73 years ago when a brilliant, terrible flash lit up the pre-dawn sky in the New Mexico desert. That first explosion at the Trinity site in …

The Austrian Philosopher Who Showed That Words Can Spark Humanism—or Barbarism

Ludwig Wittgenstein Saw Language as a "Game," and Whoever Makes the Rules Holds the Power

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian-British philosopher and logician, famously coined the term “language-game”—a term meant, as he writes in his Philosophical Investigations (1953), “to bring into prominence the fact that the …

How Societies Are Defined by the Segmentation of Time

While There's an Astronomical Basis for Years and Days, Most Temporal Units Are the Product of Language and Culture

Why does an hour last 60 minutes? Why does a minute last 60 seconds? What are “minutes” and “seconds,” really? A minute is just the duration you arrive at if …

Want to Protect Immigrants? Help Integrate Them into Our City.

Local Jobs, Language Skills, and a Path to Citizenship Are the Best Defense Against Anti-Immigrant Fervor

Is it any wonder that immigrant Los Angeles finds itself in the eye of Tropical Storm Don?

President Trump has stormed in with talk of Muslim travel bans, plans to build …