--Barbara Tuchman, "In Search of History"
I'm not good with language.
If I were good at language, I don't think I would spend so much time thinking about it. It would come more naturally, like steering a spoon to my mouth instead of my eye. We all know these things--eating with a spoon, asking for a kitten, riding a bicycle--take practice, and, with enough practice, become sort of automatic. But I have a lot of trouble attaining that state. Language is anything but automatic for me. I read and I write because language isn't easy; the technologies of written language let me slow down and re-examine the phenomenon of words.
The archaeology of words
The headlines are delightful: "You hear me! No spitting in the ashes, mother!" and "Thou old black worm, I spit fire on your ashes!" I haven't read the original research paper by Pagel et al. yet, but I've been as delighted as anyone with the lists of ultraconserved words. These are the lexical tuataras*.
So, "I F#cking Love Science" posted this on Facebook. I found it enchanting, and then...well, I completely failed at communication with the word thingies is what.