Can a word's inner life be revealed by the company it keeps? We set off this
month to find out just that, examining April through the prism of the Visual
Thesaurus and some other word investigation tools we keep in that big
sideboard over against the wall of the Language Lounge.
March is Women's History Month. In homage, we will clear a
space on the davenport for all things female in the Language Lounge. English is
a particularly apt place to study women's history, because it has fossilized
many concepts and attitudes about women that are undergoing reappraisal today.
Word associations in English reflect, to a very large degree, a historical
rather than a contemporary take on woman; the Visual Thesaurus gives us a place
to study these connections.
Monologue and soliloquy mean about the same thing but you wouldn't know it by looking at the words, and you might not even guess that they had anything to do with speech. It's all because English has always been a compulsive borrower. That's the topic we explore this month in the Language Lounge.
"Reading the dictionary" sounds like a punishment
to most people, or an activity undertaken only by the hopelessly bored or
academically inclined. It is, however, an activity that word lovers indulge in
unashamedly from time to time.