The Electric Typewriter

The Electric Typewriter

Great articles and essays by the world's best journalists and writers.
23rd Feb

What’s a Language, Anyway? by John McWhorter - The realities of speech are much more complicated than the words used to describe it

English is Not Normal by John McWhorter - No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language

How Immigration Changes Language by John McWhorter - The invention of new ways of speaking is one surprising consequence of migration to Europe

What the World Will Speak in 2115 by John McWhorter - A century from now, expect fewer but simpler languages on every continent

The World’s Most Efficient Languages by John McWhorter - How much do you really need to say to put a sentence together?

The Evolution of ‘Like’ by John McWhorter - How the ubiquitous, often-reviled word associated with young people and slackers represents the ever-changing English language

The Foolish, Malicious War on Apostrophe’s by John McWhorter - However careless people may be to the apostrophe when they text, in formal writing, the little bugger is—unfortunately—with us to stay.

Why ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ Sound So Similar in So Many Languages by John McWhorter - The story of a linguistic coincidence

Thick of Tongue by John McWhorter - I am one of those unfortunate black people who sound white…

What’s Holding Blacks Back? by John McWhorter - Is it black attitudes, rather than white racism, that are to blame?

4th Feb

The Big Uneasy by Nathan Heller - What’s roiling the liberal-arts campus? 

Renewing the University by Alan Jacobs - When students demand the intervention of administrative authority to solve every little conflict, they end up simply reinforcing a power structure in which students and faculty alike are stripped of moral agency

The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt - In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like

The Trigger Warning Myth by Aaron R. Hanlon - Coddled students aren’t the cause of a mental health crisis on campus, they’re just pawns in the culture wars 

The Doctrine of Academic Freedom  by Sandra Y.L. Korn - Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice 

Academic Freedom Is Academic Justice by Garrett M. Lam - Experimental results, unlike institutional practices, cannot run counter to our values since they are neither moral nor immoral but amoral

26th Jan

A huge collection of all the best articles/essays we read in 2017, plus a a few from 2016 that we missed last year…. enjoy!

10th Nov



After Life by Joan Didion - In the aftermath of her husband’s death, Didion meditates on the fragility of life

Tennis, Trigonometry, Tornadoes by David Foster Wallace - I grew up inside vectors, lines and lines athwart lines, grids - and, on the scale of horizons, broad curving lines of geographic force

Three by David Sedaris - A trio of the best Sedaris stories including The Youth in Asia, Jesus Shaves and Giant Dreams, Midget Abilities

Peculiar Benefits by Roxane Gay - Until visiting Haiti, I had no idea what poverty really was or the difference between relative and absolute poverty

Mirrorings by Lucy Grealy - An outstanding essay that describes the author’s changing self image as she went through years of reconstructive facial surgery

Scars by David Owen - A life in injuries

The Kingdom of Snow and Ghosts by Michael Chabon - There may never again be a tedium so wretched and marvelous as that produced by television in the heyday of the aerial

Dead Man Laughing by Zadie Smith - “My father had few enthusiasms, but he loved comedy.”

Patient by Rachel Riederer - Two of the tires are sitting on my left leg, and my right leg is wedged into the little crevice between the pairs

Mistakes Were Made, Errors Happened by Karl Taro Greenfeld - I was looking for a soft future and didn’t see any reason why a kid like me wouldn’t find his way in the Tokyo summer

(Source: tetw, via tetw)

6th Oct

The Power of Touch - Touch is the first of our senses to develop, and it remains emotionally central to our lives. Why have scientists been slow to appreciate its power?

Lies vs. Your Brain - Unfortunately, it’s no contest. Here’s what psychology tells us about how our minds process lies

How We Learn Fairness - It’s a truth universally acknowledged that capuchin monkeys prefer grapes to cucumbers…

Pornucopia - Critics say that porn degrades women, dulls sexual pleasure, and ruins authentic relationships – are they right?

Why Can’t We Fall Asleep? - Here’s what’s supposed to happen when you fall asleep…

The Work We Do While We Sleep - It’s strange, when you think about it, that we spend close to a third of our lives asleep…

The Walking Dead - Did you get enough sleep last night? Are you feeling fully awake, like your brightest, smartest, and most capable self?

Why Not a Three-Day Week? - Why working longer may not mean working better

No, Mornings Don’t Make You Moral - No, Mornings Don’t Make You Moral

When It’s Bad to Have Good Choices - It may not surprise you to learn that healthy, well-fed people in affluent countries are often unhappy and anxious…

Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect - If some people require fewer hours and some require more to reach an identical point, doesn’t that imply that some individual difference other than practice is at play?

Why Are Babies So Dumb If Humans Are So Smart? - As a species, humans are incredibly smart so why are our babies are among the dumbest—or, rather, the most helpless—that exist?

Could boredom be curable? - An elusive human annoyance may finally be yielding its secrets 

How to Tell When Someone Is Lying - Many of us believe that we can tell when someone else is lying, and, over the years, a folklore has developed around the facial and physical cues that can give someone away…

You Have No Idea What Happened - Why we remember so many things wrong

Problems Too Disgusting to Solve - Why nobody wants to drink recycled pee

I Don’t Want to Be Right - If factual correction is ineffective, how can you make people change their misperceptions? 

A Call for Spelling Standardization (or Is That Standardisation?) - British English, American English, Noah Webster English, or New Yorker English? Let’s just pick one and stick with it

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