Archive for the 'English' Category

I love a good style guide. And I applaud anyone encouraging the use of clear English. But the GOV.UK style guide, produced by the United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service (GDS) for the GOV.UK website (the new portal bringing together all, or most, of the UK’s government websites), is really bugging me. More specifically, the part on plain […]

One of the problems bilingual families face when choosing their babies’ names is finding something that’s easy to pronounce in both parents’ countries and languages and for both sets of relatives. We didn’t follow that rule when our first child, a boy, was born. We were living in Rome at the time but for me […]

The New York Times has published an interesting article on the new words and terms being used by Europe’s citizens as a result of the economic crisis. Some of the terms are lifted directly from English. Take “spreaddite acuta”, or acute spreaditis, used by the Italian media to describe Italy’s bond-yield problems. Or “downgradare”, referring to […]

Primary-school pupils in England have been sitting a new grammar, spelling and punctuation test (check out the specimen questions) as part of their final year assessment. Teachers have criticised the test, saying that there are better ways of assessing pupils’ English-language skills: Grammar is vital but you test someone’s writing skills by examining their writing. Just […]

Yesterday’s local elections in England saw the UK Independence Party (UKIP) win a remarkable 25% of the vote. Immigration is a key concern of many UKIP voters, including immigration from EU countries. In 1978, I moved from the UK to Italy, where I lived until 2002. I’m pretty sure that, as viewed from the United Kingdom, […]

If you’ve ever felt bewildered by legalese and found it far removed from Plain English, take heart: you’re in good company. Court of Appeal judge Sir Alan Ward recently heard a case revolving around the Council Tax liability of a family living on an old tug boat, the Cannis. One factor having a bearing on the decision was […]

…the phrase means: A person suited for one job may not be suited for another job. The practice of choosing the best person for a particular job. Once again, the Wikipedia family (in this case Wiktionary) refers to the translation profession to illustrate usage: The term is widely used in the foreign-language translation industry, where […]

Just enough time for one more gift idea for book lovers: “Spell It Out –The Singular Story of English Spelling”, by David Crystal. In the words of the publishers, Profile Books: Seventy-five per cent of English spelling is regular but twenty-five per cent is complicated, and in Spell It Out, our foremost linguistics expert David […]

“An object-lesson in how not to contract out a public service”. That’s how the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, described the centralised system for supplying interpreters to the justice system. (See also my previous post on Ministry of Justice language services). Headlines have included: “Court interpreter farce halts murder trial” […]

I became an “empty-nester” when my daughter moved away in September to attend Leeds College of Music. Harry, our son, had left two years earlier. So lots of changes — emotional changes and practical ones too (for example, loading up the washing machine far less often and struggling to get to 30 items to qualify for […]