Picture of Arika Okrent

Arika Okrent

Editor-at-large

Arika Okrent is editor-at-large at TheWeek.com and a frequent contributor to Mental Floss. She is the author of In the Land of Invented Languages, a history of the attempt to build a better language. She holds a doctorate in linguistics and a first-level certification in Klingon. Follow her on Twitter.

Game of Thrones: 5 fun facts about the Valyrian language
Game of Thrones.
Feature

Game of Thrones: 5 fun facts about the Valyrian language

Your family name did not come from a mistake at Ellis Island
An Italian family prepares to pass through Ellis Island, 1905.
Feature

Your family name did not come from a mistake at Ellis Island

The true origin story of the football huddle
Football players huddle, 1963.
Feature

The true origin story of the football huddle

How do you say 'pecan'?
Pecans
Feature

How do you say 'pecan'?

Where did the word 'dude' come from?
The Big Lebowski
Feature

Where did the word 'dude' come from?

7 overlooked Thanksgiving rituals, according to sociologists
Thanksgivng overlooks
Podcast

7 overlooked Thanksgiving rituals, according to sociologists

Vocal fry: The fascinating history of 'Kardashian speak'
Kardashians
Feature

Vocal fry: The fascinating history of 'Kardashian speak'

How do you say 'pecan'?
Pecans
Feature

How do you say 'pecan'?

15 unusual college mottos
Stanford University
Feature

15 unusual college mottos

Does English only need 850 words? This guy thought so.
The guy who tried to edit English
Feature

Does English only need 850 words? This guy thought so.

This language is based only on whistles
Whistles
Feature

This language is based only on whistles

15 common expressions younger generations won't understand
Teens
Feature

15 common expressions younger generations won't understand

Why do we say 'believe you me'?
Chaucer
Feature

Why do we say 'believe you me'?

Game of Thrones: 5 fun facts about the Valyrian language
Game of Thrones
Audiophile: Listen Smarter

Game of Thrones: 5 fun facts about the Valyrian language

Watch an adorable baby learn her first words in sign language
Sign language
Feature

Watch an adorable baby learn her first words in sign language

Where does the expression 'hands down' come from?
Hands down
Feature

Where does the expression 'hands down' come from?

17 'bon' figures of speech from Louisiana French
New Orleans
Feature

17 'bon' figures of speech from Louisiana French

The late, great William Zinsser: The man who taught old-school writers to embrace word processors
William Zinsser.
Feature

The late, great William Zinsser: The man who taught old-school writers to embrace word processors

Goodbye, Gwyneth: The biggest changes from this year's list of top baby names
Meet: Axl.
Feature

Goodbye, Gwyneth: The biggest changes from this year's list of top baby names

How a bag of potato chips can spy on you
Bag of chips
Feature

How a bag of potato chips can spy on you

Hear what rapping sounds like in 14 different languages
Headphones
Feature

Hear what rapping sounds like in 14 different languages

This is what American Sign Language looked like 100 years ago
Sign language
Feature

This is what American Sign Language looked like 100 years ago

Vote on a message to send to space about what earthlings think of the world
NASA spaceship
Feature

Vote on a message to send to space about what earthlings think of the world

Game of Thrones: 8 fun facts about the Valyrian language
Game of Thrones
Feature

Game of Thrones: 8 fun facts about the Valyrian language

How do you say 'pecan'?
Pecans
Feature

How do you say 'pecan'?

11 best uses of bad grammar from The Simpsons
The Simpsons.
Feature

11 best uses of bad grammar from The Simpsons

Your family name did not come from a mistake at Ellis Island
Travelers at Ellis Island
Audiophile: Listen Smarter

Your family name did not come from a mistake at Ellis Island

Should research animals get names?
Research mouse
Feature

Should research animals get names?

How deaf people come up with signs for slang terms like 'photobomb'
Photobomb
Feature

How deaf people come up with signs for slang terms like 'photobomb'

These are the top dictionary words searched at colleges across the country
Dictionary
Feature

These are the top dictionary words searched at colleges across the country

This cool interactive map lets you explore the world's languages
Interactive language map.
Feature

This cool interactive map lets you explore the world's languages

15 pairs of words that seem etymologically related but aren't
The words female and male aren't actually related.
Feature

15 pairs of words that seem etymologically related but aren't

Watch a time-lapse of an $8 million dollhouse being put back together
Fairy Castle
Feature

Watch a time-lapse of an $8 million dollhouse being put back together

The Imitation Game codebreakers also created brilliant palindromes
The Imitation Game.
Feature

The Imitation Game codebreakers also created brilliant palindromes

What is vocal fry?
Kardashians
Analysis

What is vocal fry?

6 places where lexicographers find old slang
Boxing.
Feature

6 places where lexicographers find old slang