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 most […]

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. Something […]

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 […]

Figurative Speech: Oxymorons

Oxymorons – they can be amusing or ironic, or they can give you a headache as you try to get your head around them. We use oxymorons all the time. They are terms that make sense initially, but appear to present a contradiction by fusing together two different and opposing words or terms. Be careful […]

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 […]

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? […]

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: 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 […]

The Power of Words: The Language of Politics

Around election time,┬áthe 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. “Vote For Real Change”: It’s not simply about showing you are the […]

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 […]