The City that Vanished into the Sea

When people speak of climate change, I often think of Dunwich, a town on the Suffolk coast that has almost entirely vanished into the sea. Dunwich is a pleasant city that consists of just about one street and a museum, a shingle beach, and a nearby forest. As George...

Medieval Matresses

First of all, let me apologize for the week-long delay in posting. I had my first vaccine (Astra) and it had quite the kick. Then, Electra had it and she was even worse than me. Between taking care of her and the wee one, I had precious free time in my hands for the...

Understanding Old English

How far back in history could you go until you could no longer understand the English language?Stanislava Suplatovich has the answer in Quora. To answer this question, she uses three examples. Here’s the first one: “See ye not yon twa bonny boys, As they play at...

The Mold Cape

I’m fresh back from my Easter break, and have the story of one of the most impressive treasures ever found in Britain to share with you: the Mold Cape. No, it’s not moldy (although after so many centuries buried underground, I wouldn’t be surprised...

The Dancing Plague of 1518

Vitmor Gomes recently shared on Quora one of the most fascinating Medieval stories I’ve heard: the dancing plague of 1518. In July 1518, in the town of Strasbourg, Alsace (now France), something unexpected happened. A housewife, called Frau Troffea, came out of...

The Epicene Pronoun and Singular They

Back in 2016, I had written about the appeal and long history of singular they. I recently found myself referring to this old post on Quora, during an argument with someone who claimed its use was a mistake. “Singular they” is a so-called epicene pronoun:...

Unsung Heroines: Susie King Taylor

In honor of Women’s Day, I thought I’d share with you the story of Susie King Taylor as told on Quora by Karin Muller. Susie King Taylor Every day at 9 am, Susie King Taylor and her brother would walk the half a mile to the small schoolhouse, their books...

How Latin Became Modern Italian

In my last post, I explored some ways in which a new language is born. This post examines one of the best-known historical examples (at least for anyone in the West): the way that Latin became modern Italian. As Luca Guala explains on Quora, the road taken was neither...

A New Language Born

So, you have decided to go full-Tolkien and create your own language. But wait – how are languages formed, anyway? I mean, we know that languages die all the time. But are new languages ever born? This is exactly what Simge Topaloğlu discusses on Quora. As he...

Early Wheat Recipes

I recently wrote about what ancient Greeks and Romans used to eat. But how about earlier people? If your fantasy takes place in a neolithic or even paleolithic setting, then you can spice it up (pun intended) with these early wheat recipes, courtesy of Alice Twain of...