Friday, May 4, 2012

Diacritical Marks

Diacritcal marks or diacritics are linguistic marks (or glyphs) placed above or below a letter. Diacritics – often called accents – can indicate or change a letter’s sound – though not all diacritical marks alter pronunciation.

One of the most basic English diacritics, the macron – a single bar (ā) – indicates a long vowel. In most dialects of American English, long vowels are pronounced like each letter’s name, like in cake, Pete, mice, grove, and rule. Conversely, the breve – shaped like the bottom half of a circle (ă) – marks a short vowel, like in cat, bet, fit, rot, and nut. Although these diacritics help with pronunciation, they don’t appear in the actual word.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Déjà Vu

Déjà vu is a French expression meaning "already seen," coined by French parapsychologist ÉmileBoirac in 1876 to describe an inexplicable – and often unsettling – sensation of familiarity while experiencing something for the first time. Although déjà vu has become a blanket term for any experience of this feeling, it technically only applies to visual information. Later researchers further divided this sensation into déjà visite ("already visited"), déjà vecu ("already lived through"), déjà senit (“already felt”), and déjà entendu ("already heard").