Multilingual Milwaukee Avenue

A drive up Milwaukee Avenue (or should we say a bike ride along the avenue’s seven-mile bike lane) from its downtown origin at Kinzie to the northwesternmost reaches of Chicago is a tour of the city’s rich linguistic history.

The … Read More

Pronouns: the secret to dating success?

There are many “driveway moments” for me when listening to NPR – times when I’ve long since arrived at my destination but I find myself still sitting in the car, listening to a news or special interest segment (though given … Read More

Global snack – or sex act?

It’s possible you’ve heard examples of some mistakes companies have made when attempting to market their products internationally without first researching the linguistic and cultural implications in new markets.

The classic example is the Chevy Nova, which flopped in Latin … Read More

Why bilinguals are smarter

It’s no surprise in today’s increasingly global world that being bilingual has its advantages. From a practical perspective, proficiency in a second language opens up a wealth of job opportunities. Across virtually ever industry, there is a need for effectively … Read More

Word play, Mexican style

This morning I had a quick chuckle when this popped up on my Facebook feed:


Get it? Pan = bread, pantuflas = slippers. A silly little joke for the Spanish speakers out there.

It got me thinking about a … Read More

The Scottish baffle the voice-activated iPhone

Smart phones are pretty smart. You can speak a simple instruction or question — “Create a reminder”; “What’s the weather like today?” — and the little handheld robot will respond swiftly to your command. Voice-activated virtual assistants like iPhone’s Siri … Read More

Transcribe a “captcha,” preserve history

You’re buying tickets online to a baseball game. You log into the website, pick your tickets and pay — but the transaction isn’t complete until you’ve correctly deciphered a wavy, nonsensical word like “exulatu” or “plicrom.” Those funky words are … Read More

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