Origins of the English Language: The Norman Conquest

Other titles in this series: Anglo-Saxons; Vikings Let’s get one thing out of the way before we start… whether you call him William: Duke of Normany, William the Bastard or William the Conqueror the man who invaded England from Normandy was not French. He hated the French and they hated him. He was actually of […]

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 […]

Figurative Speech: Alliteration

What is alliteration and how do we use it? It is the use of a sequence of words where the consonant sounds are similar or each word in the sentence begins with the same letter or letters. The words may not sound the same, but by starting with the same letter(s) it feels as if […]

Figurative Speech: Hyperbole and Meiosis

It’s often hard to present the idea that language studies and linguistics can be fun or funny, but when we look at issues like syntactic ambiguity¬†we¬†can see that it can be. I’m starting a new series, sort of, with no promises on how many I will do or how often I will publish posts on […]

Syntactic Ambiguity – English Language at its Funniest

No wait, don’t run away, please don’t be put off by the term “syntactic ambiguity” – yes I know it sounds dry and a bit like what you learnt in school and never want to learn again, it’s fun. In fact it’s one of the most amusing facets of the English language. Don’t believe me? […]

Origins of the English Language: Invaders from the North

This is the second part in my series and it’s only taken me a year to write it! It look at the impact of the Vikings on England specifically though they did invade and settle in Wales, Scotland, Ireland and northern France. The Vikings have a poor press. Conventionally portrayed as horn-helmeted barbarians who raped […]

Origins of the English Language: Zee Germans

bbc.co.uk I promised I would get around to this and here it is at long last, the start of a new series on the origins of the English language. Imagine living in fifth century Britannia. You speak a bastardised form of Latin that might have been influenced by the Celtic languages that preceded the arrival […]