Category Archives: Language

The Origin of the English Alphabet


Often considered one of the more difficult languages to master thanks to the incredible amount of inconsistencies in the language, it should come as no surprise that the development of the modern English alphabet involved several languages, hundreds of years and a variety of conquers, missionaries and scholars. Origins of Alphabetic Writing Dating back nearly four thousand years, early alphabetic […]

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Sherlock Holmes Never Said “Elementary, My Dear Watson”


“Elementary, my dear Watson“, sometimes quoted as, “Elementary, dear Watson“, is one of those phrases that everybody knows the character of Sherlock Holmes said. You know, just like everyone knows that Kirk said “Beam me up Scotty” and Darth Vader said, “Luke, I am your father”. The thing is, none of those characters ever said any of those things. They […]

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The Language Made Up Entirely of Whistles


Today I found out about Silbo Gomero, the whistling language. In Spanish, “Silbo Gomero” means “Gomeran whistling.” It is a language “spoken” on La Gomera in the Canary Islands (which incidentally may have been named after dogs, and certainly wasn’t named after birds) and is made up entirely of whistling sounds. The language was used by the Guanches—the aboriginal people […]

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How Hieroglyphics were Originally Translated


Today I found out about the history of the Rosetta Stone and how hieroglyphics were first translated. Hieroglyphics were elaborate, elegant symbols used prolifically in Ancient Egypt. The symbols decorated temples and tombs of pharaohs. However, being quite ornate, other scripts were usually used in day-to-day life, such as demotic, a precursor to Coptic, which was used in Egypt until […]

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Where “Catch-22” Came From and the Origins of Other Famous Words and Phrases


Not set in stone, the English language is constantly evolving to describe new developments and experiences and to match the zeitgeist of the times. With words created out of necessity to describe a new technology, like tweet and telephone, their origins are relatively easy to trace back to the people who first invented them. With others that seem to rise […]

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Origin of the Stock Market Terms “Bull” and “Bear”


Kevin asks: Why do we call the stock market trends “bullish” and “bearish”? For those who don’t know, a “bear” market, or when someone is being “bearish” in this context, is marked by investors being very conservative and pessimistic, resulting in a declining market generally marked by the mass selling off of stock.  A “bull” market is simply the opposite […]

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