So, why couldn't R2D2 speak English, anyway?

R2D2 was a droid with incredible resources for data storage, navigation, and even defense, but no one ever bothered to install translation capabilities. After looking at some of the amazing footage of the user interfaces designed for the starships in Star Wars, a question came up: Why not? » 1/24/14 4:20pm 1/24/14 4:20pm

Did Neanderthals Talk Like Humans?

It's easy to think that Neanderthals were dumb brutes, incapable of complex speech like us. But it turns out that a Neanderthal's hyoid — a small bone in the neck that supports the tongue and is crucial for speech — worked in a very similar way to your own hyoid. Does this mean they could talk like (and with!) humans? » 12/24/13 1:40pm 12/24/13 1:40pm

Comment of the Day: JJ Abrams and the Case of the Disappearing Words

Today, we compared cliff notes on the classic novels we just can't make it through, asked when we would finally be able to 3D print a wooly mammoth skeleton of our very own (today!), and weighed the truth of J.J. Abrams' number one pet peeve about futuristic fiction. » 11/14/13 4:20pm 11/14/13 4:20pm

How We'll Swear in the Future

Every culture has its swear words, nasty and highly offensive terms that pack a powerful punch when we're not in polite company. But many of our swear words have diminished in potency over time, a sure sign of their ever-changing nature. Here's how you can expect to be swearing in the future. » 11/12/13 12:48pm 11/12/13 12:48pm

Society crumbles as Google admits "Literally" now means "Figuratively"

I'm all for the flexibility of language. Modern pronunciations don't bother me, I think many common grammatical errors should be added to the rulebook, and I fully support letting words' meanings change over time. That said, there's something kind of heartbreaking about Google's new "expanded" definition of "literally." » 8/14/13 7:00am 8/14/13 7:00am