“Words over time have a way of just oozing around,” says linguist John McWhorter. He traces the evolution of five words that have spent millennia drifting from one meaning into another.

Illustration by Dawn Kim/TED | ideas.ted.com

Timothy Doner started teaching himself to speak in other languages when he was 13, and was quickly hailed as a prodigy for his linguistic proficiency. But as he soon realized, there’s more to fluency than being able to barter over kebabs in Arabic or order from a menu in Hindi.

Professional aphorist and all round word nerd James Geary shares his list of must-read books from authors covering literary life, proverbs, aphorisms, and the art of being quoted.

Shakespeare coined new words when he needed — or merely wanted — them. Can you guess which words were invented by the Bard?

The language we speak shapes our identity and our society. So let’s celebrate the diversity of English dialects.

Words change meaning all the time — and over time. Language historian Anne Curzan takes a closer look at this phenomenon, and shares some words that used to mean something totally different.

Anne Curzan shows how new words like “hangry” or “adorkable” get sealed in dictionaries. Some might lament these types of words as the death of a language, but Curzan says they reveal that a language is living, breathing, and growing.