December 1, 2009
by Graham
2 Comments

Eva Sivertsen

The death has been announced of Professor Eva Sivertsen, at the age of 87. She was born in 1922 in Trondheim, Norway, and was Professor of English there from 1961, first at the then Norges Lærerhøgskole, and then, when this … Continue reading

November 29, 2009
by Graham
6 Comments

Pity poor Belgium

Not only do most people find it difficult to name ten famous Belgians without falling back on Tintin and Hercule Poirot, but Belgium seems to be the only country name that English-speaking people get mixed up with its adjective. From … Continue reading

November 15, 2009
by Graham
5 Comments

Ground Floor

“An elderly woman was the victim of a street robbery which netted the thief just £10. … The offender walked behind the victim for a short time before grabbing her handbag, causing her to fall to the floor.” (My local … Continue reading

November 9, 2009
by Graham
3 Comments

Film biographies

In this morning’s (9 November 2009) Start the Week (BBC Radio 4, 9 a.m.), there was a discussion of a new film biography. In introducing it, Andrew Marr, the presenter, used the word biopic, and pronounced it to rhyme with … Continue reading

October 27, 2009
by Graham
6 Comments

Evenin’ All

Many of yesterday’s British papers (e.g. here, here, here, here and here) reported on Warwickshire Police’s handbook “Policing Our Communities”, with headlines that were critical of the Political Correctness inferred from statements such as “Don’t assume those words for the … Continue reading

October 20, 2009
by Graham
9 Comments

Fixed and Free

Stress in English is often said to be “fixed and free”, by which is meant that for each word it is fixed, but that there is no fixed position in the word where it must occur, unlike Czech, Finnish or … Continue reading

October 4, 2009
by Graham
1 Comment

Latin for choirs

Once you’ve decided how you’re going to pronounce Latin when you’re speaking English, the next problem comes up for singers. It’s not only English that has its own version of Latin pronunciation, but every language in Europe has its idiosyncratic … Continue reading

September 22, 2009
by Graham
1 Comment

More on Latin in English (2)

In the middle of the nineteenth century, following the great strides made in philology, the teaching of Latin in schools began to use a reconstructed “Classical” Latin pronunciation. This ‘restored’ the long and short vowel sounds of Latin to /iː, … Continue reading

September 21, 2009
by Graham
0 comments

More on Latin in English

The pronunciation of Latin words and phrases in an English-speaking context is quite complicated, because three separate traditions clash, making it difficult to be consistent. John Wells has been writing about this recently, here, here and here. First there is … Continue reading