Despite multiple readings of Pinker and Lakoff, I’ve yet to find hard linguistic evidence to back my favorite theory: That the urge to name things is hardwired into our cognition. We are, as a species, obsessed with names. We name everything: our pets, our cars, our conference sessions … and attach great significance to those chosen. Perhaps this accounts for the fascination with NameVoyager, a delightful web app that visualizes the rise and fall of names over time. (“June,” for example, was very popular in the 20s, but has since gone out of circulation.) It also lets you test your favorite theories: Was the 1984 movie Splash responsible for the rise of Madison, now the 3rd most popular girl’s name? Possibly. According to NameVoyager, Madison was virtually unused before the 80s. So go ahead, graph your own favorite names. But be warned: It’s addicting. Women who are pregnant and people who are on deadline should not follow this link.
Books to get you ready for TEDGlobal 2014 September 22, 2014
7 reasons to get TED Live September 17, 2014
25+ apps to make your everyday life easier September 19, 2014
Remembering Robin Williams August 11, 2014
The 20 most popular TED Talks, as of this moment December 16, 2013
100 Websites You Should Know and Use (updated!) August 3, 2007
5 examples of how the languages we speak can affect the way we think February 19, 2013
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