Archive Page 2

Earl Bush served for many years as press secretary for Richard J. Daley, a controversial mayor of Chicago who was a forerunner to another Bush, George W., in his mangling of the English language. Examples are: “Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all — the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman […]

Ruth Webber, a friend and generous source of marketing wisdom, moved from Scotland to Australia earlier this year. So a new city and country to discover, and a new variant of English to explore. Here are Ruth’s first impressions of English, Australian-style. English as she is spoke in Sydney. Having been in Sydney all of […]

A recent article in the New York Times entitled “They’re, Like, Way Ahead of the Linguistic Currrrve” suggests that there’s a lot more method in teenage-girl-speak than young women are usually given credit for. The article’s worth reading (especially if you’ve got a teenage daughter…). The author cites a Saturday Night Live sketch with Maya […]

Buzzwords

04Feb12

A buzzword, according to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, is: 1. a voguish word or phrase —called also buzz phrase 2. an important-sounding usually technical word or phrase often of little meaning used chiefly to impress laymen You can tell by the definitions that Merriam Webster isn’t very keen on buzzwords/phrases. Neither am I. And two […]

I’ve got Google.com set up as my browser home page. I usually just glance at the little announcements under the logo and search box. However, this morning I noticed the announcement on the changes to their terms and conditions. It said: We’re changing our privacy policy and terms. Not the usual yada yada. Learn more […]

It seems Birmingham isn’t the only city having bother with place name apostrophes, as shown by the Londonist website’s post on Should King’s Cross Have An Apostrophe?. Unlike Birmingham City Council, however, the various London authorities haven’t reached a unanimous decision. The simple truth is that there is no ‘official’ stance on the name. Or, […]

The “As a Linguist” blog has a new post, Wait, who just died?, on the problematic pronunciation and spelling of Colonel Gaddafi’s name. I’ve been “translating” his name (from the Italian version, Gheddafi) just about every day since the Libyan uprising began (I work with another translator on the English version of the Italian Foreign Ministry’s website). So […]

UK local authorities seem to have a fraught relationship with punctuation and spelling. Birmingham City Council decided in January 2009 to remove the possessive apostrophe from its place names — presumably the issue was too contentious to resolve otherwise. St Paul’s Square, King’s Norton and Druid’s Heath have thus become St. Pauls Square, Kings Norton and […]

Yikes! I was browsing through the Online Etymology Dictionary for -le frequentatives the other day, as you do, and eventually arrived at the etyolomogical definition of feisty (I was looking for “fizzle”, but one’s as bad as the other, frankly). feisty 1896, “aggressive, exuberant, touchy,” Amer.Eng., with -y (2) + feist “small dog,” earlier fice, […]

For Christmas 2010, my son bought me Michael Quinion’s book Why is Q Always Followed by U?. It’s not the sort of book you’d read in one sitting, but it’s ideal for dipping into on short train or bus journeys or in dentists’ waiting rooms when the other patients have nabbed the only 2 interesting […]