Our habitat: booth

This post has been written in response to a query from our correspondent. An answer would have taken up the entire space of my next “gleanings,” and I decided not to wait a whole month. The post Our
This post has been written in response to a query from our correspondent. An answer would have taken up the entire space of my next “gleanings,” and I decided not to wait a whole month. The post Our [More]

“Clown”: The KL-series pauses for a while

Those who have followed this series will remember that English kl-words form a loose fraternity of clinging, clinking, and clotted-cluttered things. Clover, cloth, clod, cloud, and clout have
Those who have followed this series will remember that English kl-words form a loose fraternity of clinging, clinking, and clotted-cluttered things. Clover, cloth, clod, cloud, and clout have [More]

As black as what?

All words, especially kl-words, and no play will make anyone dull. The origin of popular sayings is an amusing area of linguistics, but, unlike the origin of words, it presupposes no technical
All words, especially kl-words, and no play will make anyone dull. The origin of popular sayings is an amusing area of linguistics, but, unlike the origin of words, it presupposes no technical [More]

A collection of Victorian profanities [infographic]

Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, "he passed
Euphemisms, per their definition, are used to soften offensive language. Topics such as death, sex, and bodily functions are often discussed delicately, giving way to statements like, "he passed [More]

The unadulterated truth about the history of the word “clean”

Perhaps the story would not have been worth telling if German and Dutch klein, the closest cognates of Engl. clean, did not mean “small.” Long ago, on 4 July 2007, I devoted half of my post to the
Perhaps the story would not have been worth telling if German and Dutch klein, the closest cognates of Engl. clean, did not mean “small.” Long ago, on 4 July 2007, I devoted half of my post to the [More]

As clean as what?

In anticipation of the post on clean, I decided to say something about the idioms in which clean figures prominently, but chose only those which have the structure as clean as. The post As clean as
In anticipation of the post on clean, I decided to say something about the idioms in which clean figures prominently, but chose only those which have the structure as clean as. The post As clean as [More]

The heterogeneous “kl”-clan again: “clay,” “clove,” and all, all, all

Last week, I mentioned Francis A. Wood’s rhyme words and rhyme ideas and cited his example cloud and crowd. In my life, such a pair is gleaning and cleaning. The post The heterogeneous “kl”-clan
Last week, I mentioned Francis A. Wood’s rhyme words and rhyme ideas and cited his example cloud and crowd. In my life, such a pair is gleaning and cleaning. The post The heterogeneous “kl”-clan [More]

Clouds with and without a silver lining

Engl. cloud belongs so obviously with clod and its kin that there might not even be a question­­­­ of its origin (just one more lump), but for the first recorded sense of clūd in Old English, which
Engl. cloud belongs so obviously with clod and its kin that there might not even be a question­­­­ of its origin (just one more lump), but for the first recorded sense of clūd in Old English, which [More]

Changing languages

In the literature on language death and language renewal, two cases come up again and again: Irish and Hebrew. Mention of the former language is usually attended by a whiff of disapproval. It was
In the literature on language death and language renewal, two cases come up again and again: Irish and Hebrew. Mention of the former language is usually attended by a whiff of disapproval. It was [More]

Survival in the English Department

Jonathan Gottschall tried to save literary studies by importing evolutionary theory. Instead he ruined his academic career…
Jonathan Gottschall tried to save literary studies by importing evolutionary theory. Instead he ruined his academic career… [More]