The Language of Politics: When Sh*t Doesn’t Stick (The Corybn Election Earthquake)

Let me start with a disclaimer: I am not a Labour member, supporter or voter. I have not voted Labour in a General Election since 1997 when Tony Blair came to power. Most elections, I have flitted between Lib-Dem and Green; this year I became a member of the Green Party of England and Wales but feel a Lib-Dem at heart. Continue reading “The Language of Politics: When Sh*t Doesn’t Stick (The Corybn Election Earthquake)”

On Learning American English (My Dubious Claim to Being Bilingual).

MG Mason:

A very good friend of mine has been in the US for just over a year. Similar to some of the musings on the differences between AME and BE I’ve written about recently, here’s a great analysis from somebody who is living it.

Originally posted on Old England to New England:

There are some elusive skills that you can obtain in life that will make you the envy of all of your fellow humans. Being visible to the wait staff in a restaurant when you want to settle your bill is chief among these but

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Words With Different Meanings (US vs UK): Cider Edition

A bit of a follow up from a previous post here. As a west country lad, it is pretty much expected of me to like cider. I freely admit to this being a recent addition to my alcohol tastes. I have friends in Bristol, lived in Devon for five years and my girlfriend lives in Cornwall. It’s only a surprise that it took so long for me to acquire the taste of fermented apple juice (sparking or otherwise). Summer days like this are perfect for sitting in the garden or on the harbour enjoying the sea breeze sweep over you, cooling the sweat. What better way to enjoy a good cider? Continue reading “Words With Different Meanings (US vs UK): Cider Edition”

Words With Different Meanings (US vs UK)

(Depending on where you live in the world and which version of English you speak).

I went to an Asian pre-wedding party on Saturday night. The person getting married is the best friend of my brother. But hold it there for a moment. When I used the word “Asian” what did you assume I meant? Which part of the world did you presume the ancestry of most of the attendees was? Continue reading “Words With Different Meanings (US vs UK)”

Favourite and Least Favourite Words of a Linguistics Nerd

The pen is mightier than the sword -Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

(And just as deadly in the wrong hands as Jack Nicholson’s Joker proves in Batman: The Movie).

Words can do many things. They can hurt an individual or they change humanity for the better or worse. They can be used to spread the truth and to spread lies. They can do untold damage or they can stir people into action. They can educate, indoctrinate and manipulate (hey, I’m a poet!). They can make you laugh and cry. They can cause calm or anger, or inspire fear or pride. Continue reading “Favourite and Least Favourite Words of a Linguistics Nerd”

Figurative Speech: Portmanteau

What is portmanteau? Doesn’t that sound a little posh to be an English word? What sort of strange airy-fairy linguistics stuff are you presenting us now, Matt, in the name of edutainment? There you go, there’s the first one for you – edutainment. Portmanteau in its original meaning refers to a type of bag that opens into two equal parts. A bit like a Doctor’s bag, but that’s not the version we’re talking about today. We’re talking about literary use of which “edutainment” is included. So chillax and read on (yep, that’s another one!) Continue reading “Figurative Speech: Portmanteau”

Figurative Speech: Idioms

We love idioms in English and it’s often a peculiarity that confuses non-native speakers when they hear us using them without a second thought for how they confuse people. What do we mean by idioms? It means when we use bywords that are unrelated to what they actually mean; it has figurative meaning but is not like a simile or metaphor which are about drawing comparisons. Continue reading “Figurative Speech: Idioms”

The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript

The Voynich Manuscript

For the linguists and theoretical code geeks (are there such people?) around here, the mysterious Voynich Manuscript has always baffled language experts and code breakers since it came to light a century ago. Dating to the middle ages, it is a bizarre compilation of strange language, what appears to be herbal medicine recipes, illustrations of plants that nobody can identify and a strange code that nobody can identify a cipher for. Continue reading “The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript”