January 13, 2010
by Graham

Trend Setters

In all aspects of culture, the leaders who introduce innovations, whether consciously or not, are gradually followed by the rest of the population who wish to emulate them. This is most obvious in clothes, where before the instant communications of … Continue reading

January 11, 2010
by Graham

1880s English

A few more interesting entries from the Dictionary of Blunders: “ABSQUATULATE (introduced from America) means to run away from your ‘squatting’ or settlement. The word is applied in England to any one running away from his creditors.” OED1 has the … Continue reading

January 9, 2010
by Graham

More Blunders

The anonymous author of A Dictionary of Blunders has a thing about syllabic /l/: BRIDAL should not be pronounced bri’-dle, but as spelled, bri’-dal. GRAVEL … should not be pronounced grav’-l, but grav’-vel. MEDAL … should be pronounced med’-al, not … Continue reading

January 4, 2010
by Graham

Intrusive r

There are many articles available on the internet about the so-called ‘intrusive r’, but as a visitor to this blog has written asking me to correct people who “persist in inserting an extra [R] between the [W] and the [I] … Continue reading

December 24, 2009
by Graham
1 Comment

A rary bird

I’ve been following John Wells’ thread on nursery rhymes, and have found this rare example from a French one: “Oui, oui, choux!” un maire y crie, “ça masse!”

December 22, 2009
by Graham

Two names and a word

Nicholas Glass, in his report for Channel 4 News yesterday on the arrest of five men charged with stealing the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign from Auschwitz, named two other places: Gdynia and Wrocławek. He can be excused (as we are … Continue reading

December 12, 2009
by Graham

How many words?

It’s often said that English has more words than any other language. I’m not aware of any bona fide linguist who’s said this, but the statement crops up in newspaper articles from time to time. Is it true? How would … Continue reading