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
6 Comments

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
6 Comments

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

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