Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Word from Mythology: Calliope

Today's word from mythology is calliope. In modern English, the calliope is a musical instrument which plays loud sounds by blowing steam or gas through large pipes. You can read more about the calliope at Wikipedia. Here is a poster for a calliope, "the wonderful steam car of the Muses," from 1874 (image source).

In the mythology of ancient Greece, Calliope was a goddess. Specifically she was one of the Muses and presided over epic song and of eloquence in general. According to some ancient sources, she was the chief of the Muses. You can read more about Calliope the goddess at Wikipedia.

Here is a depiction of the goddess Calliope from a painting by Simon Vouet:

A World of Languages

As this infographic explains, "There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother tongue for more than 50 milion people. The 23 languages make up the native tongue of 4.1 billion people. We represent each language within black borders and then provide the number of native speakers (in millions) by country. The colour of those countries shows how languages have taken root in many different regions." You can see the full-sized image here.

Here is a close-up showing English. The different colors are because it is spoken on different continents!

Friday, June 5, 2015

Word-Unit Palindromes

You've probably heard of palindromes, which are the same whether the letters are read from left to right or from right to left. You can read more about palindromes at Wikipedia.

There are also word-unit palindromes, where you read the sentence word by word either way. Here's an example:

"Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is?"

You can find more examples here: Word-unit palindromes by Mark Nelson. I found this example in Nelson's article:

Mind your own business: Own your mind.

Meditating Jizō-sama by Sébastien Bertrand