Support Aeon

‘I support Aeon because I value excellence over up-to-the-minute, depth over speed, beauty over fact-dropping.’

Ole S, Germany, Friend of Aeon

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
But we can’t do it without you.

Donate now

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Donate now

Cultures and languages


Latest Popular


Architecture Art Biography and memoir Cultures and languages Dance and theatre Design and fashion Film and visual culture Food and drink Home Music Nature and landscape Rituals and celebrations Sports and games Stories and literature Subcultures Travel
Essay/
Cultures and languages
English is not normal

No, English isn’t uniquely vibrant or mighty or adaptable. But it really is weirder than pretty much every other language

John McWhorter

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Kept women

Mistresses are big business in China, where no official is a real man without his own ernai. What’s in it for the girls?

James Palmer

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Master of many trades

Our age reveres the specialist but humans are natural polymaths, at our best when we turn our minds to many things

Robert Twigger

Essay/
Cognition and intelligence
Real talk

For decades, the idea of a language instinct has dominated linguistics. It is simple, powerful and completely wrong

Vyvyan Evans

Essay/
Cultures and languages
The invasion of America

The story of Native American dispossession is too easily swept aside, but new visualisations should make it unforgettable

Claudio Saunt

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Naughty words

What makes swear words so offensive? It’s not their meaning or even their sound. Is language itself a red herring here?

Rebecca Roache

Essay/
Beauty and aesthetics
The sea was never blue

The Greek colour experience was made of movement and shimmer. Can we ever glimpse what they saw when gazing out to sea?

Maria Michela Sassi

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Absolute English

Science once communicated in a polyglot of tongues, but now English rules alone. How did this happen – and at what cost?

Michael D Gordin

Essay/
Cultures and languages
See through words

The metaphor designer isn’t trying to make something beautiful. She wants to change your view on things. Here’s how

Michael Erard

Essay/
Political philosophy
Theory from the ruins

The Frankfurt School argued that reason is dangerous, mass culture deadening, and the Enlightenment a disaster. Were they right?

Stuart Walton

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Dark books

What’s more wholesome than reading? Yet books wield a dangerous power: the best erode self, infecting readers with ideas

Tara Isabella Burton

Essay/
Cosmopolitanism
The dimming of the light

With its revolutionary heat and rational cool, French thought once dazzled the world. Where did it all go wrong?

Sudhir Hazareesingh

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Talk the talk

A push for English to be the official language of the US has both a dark history and a regressive vision for the future

Eric C Miller

Essay/
Biology
The songs of the wolves

Wolves’ howls are eerie, beautiful and wild. But what are they actually saying to each other?

Holly Root-Gutteridge

Essay/
Anthropology
No drama, King Obama

In Javanese culture, a ruler must stand chivalrously above strife: cool, intelligent and self-contained. Sound familiar?

Edward L Fox

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Talking gibberish

The study of languages has long been prone to nonsense. Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?

Gaston Dorren

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Speaking in tongues

In a world that converses only in English, we’ll talk only of banal things: that’s why I want my children to be bilingual

Ben Faccini

Essay/
Stories and literature
Enid Blyton, moral guide

The unfashionable world of Blyton’s school stories still has much to say about what it means to live an ethical life

Nakul Krishna

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Is linguistics a science?

Much of linguistic theory is so abstract and dependent on theoretical apparatus that it might be impossible to explain

Arika Okrent

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Is nothing sacred?

Every culture looks for creative inspiration to other cultures, but is there a point when this is just outright theft?

Nabeelah Jaffer

Essay/
Cultures and languages
From Aesop to doge

The animal who speaks in a human voice is a figure of the most enduring imaginative power. What do we hope to hear?

Stassa Edwards

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Origins

Paleogenetics is helping to solve the great mystery of prehistory: how did humans spread out over the earth?

Jacob Mikanowski

Essay/
Cultures and languages
Talk like an Egyptian

If we want to safeguard our languages, stories and ideas against extinction, we had better study Egyptology

Grayson Clary

Essay/
Art
Has art ended again?

Ever since Hegel, artists and critics alike have been claiming that art is finished. But what could that actually mean?

Owen Hulatt

Essay/
Cultures and languages
More than words

Human communication is a glorious chaos. And images, from art to emojis, sometimes say it so much better than language can

Thom Scott-Phillips

Essay/
Cultures and languages
The ministry of truth

Orwell taught us to fear technocratic jargon that doesn’t let us say what we mean. But that is language at its best

Elijah Millgram