img-clip.png
John McMahon

Population Boom, Language Bust: Homogenization at Work

maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com-Smilies-Different-Diversity-Human-Emoticons-Masks-1602493-150x150.jpg

Since modern science has extended life spans and lowered infant and child mortality rates, world population has been increasing at an exponential rate leading to major changes in human migration. This migration has created larger and larger populous centers that has resulted in cultural homogenization and the dominance of fewer languages (ahem, English). Okay, that’s(…)


Food Name Origins: ‘Why Hot Dog?’

hot-dog-657039_640-150x150.jpg

I enjoy stories of how foods travel and get named and then often re-named as they mutate to fit changing tastes. One of my favorite documentaries in recent years was The Search for General Tso which traces the origin of the famous dish while uncovering the history of Chinese immigration to the US in the process.(…)


Are You Woke?

MPD_can_destroy_our_spot_but_not_our_souls_Operation_staywoke_23145268739-150x150.jpg

Slang is one of the few aspects of language that has the ability to change in the blink of an eye. As soon as it’s born, it mutates, evolves, and then passes through an extensive transformative process on social media where memes, GIFs, tweets, and status updates spit out any kind of new meaning. While(…)


Which English Do You Speak?

English_in_the_countries_of_the_world-150x150.png

Believe it or not, English still remains today’s lingua franca. Whether you are a native English speaker from the US, Canada, the UK, India, Australia, South Africa, or any of the other numerous English-speaking countries around the world, there’s always some kind of variation between dialects. Personally having surrounded myself with quite a few expatriated Brits while living(…)


English Words that Came From the Russian Revolution

honor-guard-67636_640-150x150.jpg

The amount of news stories referring to collusion or collaboration between the United States and Russia as of recent has done its fair share so as to inspire words like ‘disinformation’ and ‘propaganda’, both of which find their origins in Russian interestingly enough. Aside from the vast numbers of Serfs, Jews, and Slavs that fled Russia from(…)


The “Hotel California” Phenomenon in Thailand

hotel-california-featured-150x150.png

Hi, my name is John McMahon. I am an American who has lived in Thailand for over a decade and I need some help. Ten years ago I lived in a big house on a small side street with a little bar at the end. The owner of this bar also fancied himself a singer.(…)


The Tricks of the Trade: Airline Language

The-Tricks-of-the-Trade-Airline-Language-150x150.png

It may sound mythical, like unicorns or pots of gold at the end of rainbows to those born after around 1990, but it’s true: flying was once pleasurable. Before the abuse; the stripping, radiating, berating. It was a fairly simple process to board a plane. Before the luggage limitations and federal laws and armed marshals,(…)


How George Washington Got Us a 3-Day Weekend

How-George-Washington-Got-Us-a-3-Day-Weekend-featured-150x150.png

A year after General George Washington, the first President of the United States, died in 1799, his February 22nd birthday became a day of remembrance and celebration. Following suit, in 1832, the centennial of his birth was celebrated nationwide. Then, in 1848, the Washington Memorial began construction. In 1877, Rutherford B. Hayes, the 19th President(…)


Brain Benefits of Being Bilingual

secondlanguage-featured-150x150.png

“Americans who travel abroad for the first time are often shocked to discover that, despite all the progress that has been made in the last 30 years, many foreign people still speak in foreign languages.” – Dave Barry I have always envied those raised bilingually. Those who slip so easily from one tongue to another.(…)


Literally, Not Figuratively: When, How, and Why Did it Happen?

literally-featured-150x150.png

One of the great things about the English language is that’s so expansive. As a kind of linguistic black hole, sucking words in from all over, it’s a rare occasion for a person with a good vocabulary in English to have to resort to idiom or explanation in order to refer to a singular object(…)