May 2, 2009
by Graham

New words or old?

I’ve recently come across two words I’d never seen before. The immediate reaction is to think that the writer has either mis-remembered another word, or simply made it up on the hoof: “To cut this delay, the control unit briefly … Continue reading

April 24, 2009
by Graham

Blaenau Gwent

Mark Easton, the BBC’s Home Editor, reported on the employment situation in this constituency on Wednesday, 22 April, Budget Day here in Britain. However, he did not do his homework properly, for he made the classic mistake of non-Welsh speakers … Continue reading

April 20, 2009
by Graham


John Wells’ blog of 13 April deals with the inability of many BBC reporters to pronounce the unfortunate earthquake-stricken Italian town. As he says, the Guardian’s Alexander Chancellor takes the Pronunciation Unit to task for not doing its job properly. … Continue reading

March 18, 2009
by Graham

In case …

Wherever I go in Europe, I seem to see signs outside lifts that say “Do not use the lift in case of fire”. Inevitably, one of the British people standing waiting for the lift to arrive then says “We shouldn’t … Continue reading

February 28, 2009
by Graham

Crossword puzzle

Jack Windsor Lewis’ blog 151 mentions the fact that ‘ch’ is counted as a single letter when alphabetising Welsh, Spanish (but not Portuguese) and Czech. Double ‘ll’ is likewise a single ‘letter’ in both Welsh and Spanish (as an example, … Continue reading

February 19, 2009
by Graham

Language, Variety, Dialect

In a comment on last week’s post about ‘snow terms’, John Cowan takes me to task for comparing apples with lemons (a ‘malo-citrine’ comment is how he puts it) when I wrote that ‘lie’, ‘settle’, ‘stick’ and ‘pitch’ were alternative … Continue reading

February 14, 2009
by Graham

Snow terms

England has had far more snow this winter than for many a long year – 18 according to the Meteorological Office. When snow falls and does not immediately melt, what is it doing? In Scotland, it is said to be … Continue reading

February 5, 2009
by Graham


Last week, Birmingham City Council announced that it was no longer going to put apostrophes in its street names. This caused an outcry in the press. I can only assume the council needs the publicity, because the placing of apostrophes … Continue reading