Posted on 09/18/2015 at 12:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

This week’s Friday favorites might feel like a trip back to high school, with all its talk of etymology, stylistic tricks and “proper” language.

But what can we say, the leaves are falling, the students are clustering around buses, and the football stadiums are packed? Can’t blame us for being in a scholarly mood.

On to our pre-weekend lecture!

Business Insider hits the high points of Harvard linguist Steven Pinker’s “The Sense of Style,” which, yes, reminds us of how to properly use “ironic” and “literally.”

A new project dubbed Alex won’t prevent you from such faux pas, but it promises to flag words that might offend readers. (Those offended by mixups such as “adverse” in place of “averse” are out of luck, we fear.)

Knowing the roots of a word could prove helpful for some of us prone to misspeaking, though. A recent NPR segment looked at various words, like quixotic, that were born of literary characters.

Etymology plays a crucial role when it comes to translating proper nouns in fiction. The Guardian explored this process using the Italian translation of Albus Dumbledore — Albus Silente (yes, that’s a cognate).

And finally, sometimes etymology is more entertaining than useful. The Guardian also collected an “encyclopedia” of emotions and explained their origins — from the very modern “ringxiety” to the Victorian-coined “boredom.”

Class is dismissed. 

Categories: Favorites

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