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 […]

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 […]

Figurative Speech: Paradox

Paradoxes make my head hurt – at least the scientific ones do – and a couple of years ago I went to a talk at Winchester Discovery Centre on the world’s greatest paradoxes given, no less, than by Jim Al Khalili. Those are not the sorts of paradoxes I want to talk about here. I […]

Quirks of the English Language

Now I am writing for a living, there are many curiosities that strike me about the language of English, seemingly contradictory grammatical rules, strange spellings, silent letters, that dreaded “i before e except after c” that has so many exceptions. This thread is just a dumping ground for some of the weirder quirks so please forgive me […]