Why is it called a turkey if the bird is from North America, not the country of Turkey? (Prefer a video version of this post? Watch here!) Well it turns out it is from Turkey—sort of. Guinea fowl from Madagascar were imported into Europe through the Ottoman Empire, so most Europeans called the bird aContinue reading “turkey”


During classical antiquity the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli was mined in a place called Lāžvard around modern Afghanistan. That’s also the name of the stone in Classical Persian (لاجورد‎). It comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *ǵʰelh₃- ‘to gleam, to shine’ + Proto-Iranian *varta- ‘stone’. (Watch a video version of this post below!) Other words thatContinue reading “azure”

Book List: The Linguistics Starter Pack

Curious about linguistics but not sure where you can learn more? The Linguistics Starter Pack is for you! This is a curated list of my top recommendations for getting started in linguistics. Most of the items on this list are popular science books, aimed at a general audience, and written in a non-technical way. I’veContinue reading “Book List: The Linguistics Starter Pack”