Let It Bee

Honeybees are sophisticated creatures. They are one of the few nonhuman animals to communicate symbolically, using a waggle dance and excreting pheromones to recruit and direct others in the hive to a new food source. The honeybee waggle dance is a unique animal signal that exhibits several characteristics of true language. Bees have a phenomenal […]

Language By Law

Does the United States need laws to enforce clear writing? Apparently so, because on October 13, 2010, President Barak Obama signed the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which seeks “to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies … by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.” The Plain Writing Act […]

Desalination Complication

As a born-and-raised Californian now living in the Midwest, I’ve recently experienced a lot of new things for the first time: toasted ravioli, friendly strangers and, most importantly, seasons. But surprisingly I’ve adjusted faster than I could have predicted, to the point that when it’s constantly raining here in St. Louis and all the greenery […]

Friendly Eyes

Anyone with a dog or who has spent time around a dog knows the power of the ‘puppy eyes’ well. It’s that piercing look, topped with expressive eyebrows that make you say, “Sure Fido, you can have some of my filet mignon, most of the bed space, and half of the couch.” It’s a look […]

Faking It

La Bella Principessa is a painting worth somewhere between $19,000 and $150 million dollars. In 1998, Christie’s listed the chalk-and-ink drawing on vellum dated as early 19th century and Germanic in provenance. (Oops!) It was sold to Kate Ganz for $21,850. The portrait was sold a few years later to Peter Silverman for a similar amount. […]

What Is “Natural”?

Michael Pollan recently wrote a piece in The New York Times discussing why nothing is truly natural anymore. I don’t always agree with Pollan’s views, but this piece resonated, as this idea has been tossed around quite frequently. Pollan spoke about the word ‘natural’ in context of the food industry, but the argument has much […]

The Language Of Lincoln

One hundred and fifty years have passed since Lincoln’s assassination and the end of the Civil War. May 4, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral, an event which will be commemorated by thousands of Civil War re-enactors, visitors and dignitaries participating in the 2015 Lincoln Funeral Re-enactment. The Battle of Gettysburg, the […]

Seize The Decay

We’ve all been there: holding the fridge door open as we cast a skeptical eye over that 4-day old package of meat, wondering if it’s still good or if maybe we’re better off throwing it out and ordering a pizza for dinner. I personally try and do the majority of my grocery shopping on the […]

Alone Again, Or

Scientists have been studying the calls of a whale dubbed “the loneliest whale in the world” for more than 20 years. Its calls are unusually high pitched—52 hertz, versus the typical 15-20 hertz range of blue whales. No one has ever seen the 52-hertz whale, but scientists believe he has been swimming alone for decades, […]

Mind The Gap

Lexical gap:   “A perceived gap in the lexicon or vocabulary of a language”; ideas or “relationships that are ‘lexicalised’ or represented in the vocabulary of one language may not be in another.” —A Dictionary of Sociolinguistics   The Roman orator Quintilian said that when communicating “one should aim not at being possible to understand, but […]