Linguist Michael Erard, the author of Um. .. Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean who we recently interviewed, graciously sent us this article, which he first wrote and published in the magazine Lingua Franca:

In a recent issue of the moderated e-mail list Linguist, Brown University anthropologist William O. Beeman addressed an odd phenomenon: Apparently, there is a different word for butterfly in every language, even though historical relationships and geographic contacts often suggest the words should be similar. Beeman called it "the butterfly problem."

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Linguist Michael Erard, the author of Um. .. Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, and What They Mean who we recently interviewed, graciously sent us this article, which he first wrote and published in the magazine Lingua Franca:

Despite the intent stare and accusatory index finger, when Uncle Sam glowers down from recruitment posters and announces "I Want You for the U.S. Army," it is not absolutely clear what he means. Does he mean you in particular? Or you in general, as in "all of you eligible citizens"? Uncle Sam's ambiguity is not unique. Continue reading...

They say that breaking up is hard to do, but English words seem to have just as hard a time of it forming stable relationships. This month in the Lounge we examine recent trends. Continue reading...
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