Archive for the 'English' Category

I was looking through Vogue magazine last night, the British version, and a couple of articles caught my eye: one on “over-programmed” children whose days are packed with so many activities that they’re “over-stimulated, over-pressured, stressed right out”; one on personalised fitness for busy people showing a drawing of a man using a cycling machine while working […]

Did you watch the “English 3.0” video examining the question: is the Internet having a detrimental effect on English and on “standards”? Here are my thoughts on the question. Social media = online conversation Much of the “bad writing” we see online is really just a form of conversation. People writing on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites are […]

  Italian journalist and author Beppe Severgnini has come up with a rule for good writing. It’s the PORCO rule: Pensa, Organizza, Rigurgita, Correggi, Ometti (Ponder, Organise, Regurgitate, Correct, Omit). I’m not mad about the PORCO rule because: a) “Porco” is Italian for pig. Not the cute kind of pig you see in a film like Babe (for which the […]

“English 3.0”, a 20-minute video by documentary film-maker Joe Gilbert, “explores how the internet has influenced the way we communicate today and whether the changes witnessed have had a positive effect on the language”. It features interviews with Tom Chatfield (author and cultural commentator), David Crystal (author and linguist), Robert McCrum (associate editor of The Observer), […]

First of all, a warning to readers. I normally try to keep this blog a-political and to focus mainly on language issues. However, I feel very passionately about the Scottish Referendum debate and its outcome. As this blog is my main platform for expressing my beliefs, this post, and maybe one other in the next few days, will have […]

As you’re probably aware (you certainly will be if you live in Scotland or one of the other UK countries!), on 18 September people on both sides of the Scottish independence debate – “Yes” voters, who want independence, and “No” voters, who want to stay with the United Kingdom – will be casting their votes. And in spite of their […]

Today is the International Day of Happiness so websites and blogs will probably be awash with videos featuring “Happy” by Pharrell Williams (or check out the 24-hours of Happy version). But what about the true meaning of happiness (or at least, its etymology)? Here it is, courtesy of the Online Etymology Dictionary: happy (adj.) late 14c., “lucky, favored […]

What do you think of the Oxford English Dictionary’s choice of “selfie” as Word of the Year for 2013? I’m not mad about the word itself, although that’s probably an age/generational thing. In my young day (indeed, in most people’s young day) the technology for selfies wasn’t available: you took a photo of yourself, alone […]

Today is apparently National Burger Day. For those of us more interested in words than in food (who am I kidding?), here’s the etymology of burger (and of hamburger), courtesy of the Online Etymology Dictionary. burger (n.) 1939, American English, shortened from hamburger (q.v.). hamburger (n.) 1610s, “native of Hamburg;” the meat product so called […]

Yesterday, 16 August, was International Apostrophe Day, and the cue for lots of apostrophe articles and Twitter posts. The following quick guide to when and how to use an apostrophe was taken from an article in The Guardian by David Marsh: If you can’t use an apostrophe, you don’t know your shit. How to use an apostrophe […]