Although his brain was no bigger than a walnut, Alex the African gray parrot could do more than speak and understand — he could also count, identify colors and, according to his owner Irene Pepperberg, develop an emotional relationship.
In 2017 alone, Merriam-Webster added more than 1,000 words to its dictionary. Noah Webster himself might have struggled to define these new English terms — such as binge-watch, humblebrag, photobomb, NSFW, truther, face-palm and listicle.
With all our texting, tweeting and social media posting, billions of people are using typed words for the kind everyday communication that used to happen more often in conversation. A new book argues that we’ve created a unique new language to reproduce the shades of meaning that we used to convey verbally. Our linguist Geoff Nunberg reflects on the new rules of language that he calls chat-speak.