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

January 29, 2009
by Graham

Today’s “Today”

The Today Programme on Radio 4 has this morning once again demonstrated the ignorance of journalists about the nature of language – the main tool of their trade. This was particularly deplorable this morning (Thursday 29 January) as both its … Continue reading

January 23, 2009
by Graham

English Polish

Philip Taylor has asked about the anglicisation of Łódż. I have mentioned this place before, here, but only in passing, so perhaps it is time to give a bit more background.

January 19, 2009
by Graham

Where do you shop?

In Britain the answer might be at ASDA, Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, Marks & Spencer’s, Debenham’s, Harrod’s … But some would say “Tesco’s”, and I’ve also heard “Waitrose’s”. The ‘regular’ treatment of shop names is to add the genitive to … Continue reading

January 7, 2009
by Graham


There have been a few comments about my post on ‘vanishing r’, including one from Jack Windsor Lewis (his blog 145 on 29 December 2008). He suspects that the lack of complaints from the public about the ‘mispronunciation’ of veterinary/veterinarian … Continue reading