Latest Issue

Tag: Language

Symbolic language

Steven Pinker has a good stab at explaining metaphor, but his belief that brains work like computers proves a big limitation. We still need poets to understand the imagination
John Cornwell  

From people to person

In China, collectivist ideals are enshrined in the very language, so it is not surprising that rebellion often takes a linguistic form. These two novels examine the struggle for self-expression in modern China
Tom Chatfield  

Notes from underground

Misusing language is practically company policy on the tube. Staff may know what "severe delays" means, but there's no way they're telling the public
Dan Kuper  

Goodbye isiXhosa

The South African constitution guarantees "parity of esteem" to no less than 11 languages. But English, despite being the mother tongue of only 9 per cent of the population, will soon crowd out the rest
RW Johnson  

For and against Chomsky

Is the world's top public intellectual a brilliant expositor of linguistics and the US's duplicitous foreign policy? Or a reflexive anti-American, cavalier with his sources?
Robin Blackburn  

Peculiar words

Dr Johnson wrote a dictionary to teach people to use English well, but also to record how they spoke it. It remains both authoritative and personal
Richard Jenkyns  

Deaf nationalism

Sign language is officially recognised as a minority language in its own right. And some deaf people have begun to think of themselves as forming a fully fledged "nation." They accuse hearing-aid makers and ear surgeons of trying to exterminate…

Mother tongue

What does the fashion for books about the state of the English language tell us? People care about their language because it forms part of their identity, and part of the resistance to changes in English is a resistance to…
Richard Jenkyns