Cornwall and the Linguistic Diaspora

You can sometimes find acquaintance and commonality in the most unusual places. I first found Alexis Chateau’s blog around two years ago. I can’t quite remember how, maybe it was the chronicles of her travels around the southern US states. Yet it ended up being her posts on Jamaican culture that I found the mostContinue reading “Cornwall and the Linguistic Diaspora”

The Grammar Rules That It’s Ok To Break

I know I can be a Grammar Nazi. I have to be – people pay me to be a be a Grammar Nazi! However, even I know that there are some grammar rules than practically nobody obeys. I’m not talking about using “less” when you mean “fewer”, I mean those that help language flow. SomethingContinue reading “The Grammar Rules That It’s Ok To Break”

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 ofContinue reading “Origins of the English Language: The Norman Conquest”

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?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 toContinue reading “Favourite and Least Favourite Words of a Linguistics Nerd”

The Power of Words: The Language of Politics

Around election time, the language of our politicians changes. We all know how much they use spin and photo opportunities to sway us to vote for them, but I’ve noticed that certain words get used more than at any other time during a Parliament.

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 ifContinue reading “Figurative Speech: Alliteration”

Book Review: The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth

Ever wondered where certain words, terms and common phrases came from? Such trends as “playing chicken”, “gene pool”, “turn up for the books” and even “avocado”? You’d be surprised at some of them and shocked when you find that the latter came about because of a comparison with male genitalia in the language of theContinue reading “Book Review: The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth”

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 onContinue reading “Figurative Speech: Hyperbole and Meiosis”

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?Continue reading “Syntactic Ambiguity – English Language at its Funniest”