“One of the hardest notions for a human being to shake is that a language is something that is, when it is actually something always becoming.” ~ John McWhorter Among the English-speaking nations of the world, there’s been a long-standing debate about which of these nations uses our not-so-common language … [Read more...] about Watch Your Language!
His name was William Archibald Spooner and he was born in London in 1844. He became an Anglican priest and a noted scholar, affiliated for 60 years with Oxford University, where he held various leadership posts, and taught philosophy and history. Brilliant though he was, he most likely would have been long since … [Read more...] about Getting His Words Mixed!
This language of ours certainly isn’t easy! It’s been known to cause logophobia, defined as “an excessive fear of words.” For example, consider the following statements, each of which uses two words which are spelled the same but have different pronunciations and meanings: 1) The bandage was wound around … [Read more...] about Logophobia – and Other Diseases!
Today, most people probably relate the word scoop to ice cream or sherbet. Given the fact that Americans consume more than one billion gallons of ice cream and other frozen delicacies a year, that’s understandable. However, the scoop we’re referring to is a media term that’s been around for more than a century. Over … [Read more...] about The Straight Scoop!
Just recently, I came across an old friend I haven’t had much to do with in recent years. On second thought, I’m not sure I can call someone I’ve never met a friend, even though the addiction or obsession we share makes him seem like one. His name is Gyles Brandreth. Born in England, he was educated at Oxford … [Read more...] about The Joy of Lex
If you proofread your written material yourself, or if you do some proofing for others, here are some of the more common errors to watch for: Poor grammar: Misusing its and it’s (latter always and only means it is or it has) I feel badly (should be bad) Where I’m at (delete at) Off of (delete of) … [Read more...] about The Proofreader’s Role
In a newspaper article titled "The Art of Schmoozing," one of the people interviewed by the reporter was quoted as saying: "A lot of our organization is built around networking, which means that we’re built around schmoozing." In his wonderful book, "The Joys of Yiddish" (among my all-time favorites), Leo Rosten … [Read more...] about Schmoozing? Or Losing?
"You only write regularly if you’re willing to write badly. You can’t write regularly and well. One should accept bad writing as a way of priming the pump, a warm-up exercise that allows you to write well.” ~ Jennifer Egan (Pulitzer Prize winner) He was a British author who could have had no idea of the dubious fame … [Read more...] about Celebrating Bad Writing
So what’s this stuff about English being easy? Consider the fact that we have one little two-letter word in our language that has dozens of meanings and can be used as an adverb, adjective, preposition and noun. That word is “UP.” It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky, or at the top of the list, but … [Read more...] about What’s Up?