How English became English – and not Latin

English grammar has been closely bound up with that of Latin since the 16th century, when English first began to be taught in schools. Given that grammatical instruction prior to this had focused on
English grammar has been closely bound up with that of Latin since the 16th century, when English first began to be taught in schools. Given that grammatical instruction prior to this had focused on [More]

‘Mate’ in Australian English

Mate is one of those words that is used widely in Englishes other than Australian English, and yet has a special resonance in Australia. Although it had a very detailed entry in the first edition of
Mate is one of those words that is used widely in Englishes other than Australian English, and yet has a special resonance in Australia. Although it had a very detailed entry in the first edition of [More]

…whether the wether will weather the weather

It so happens that I have already touched on the first and the last member of the triad whether –wether—weather in the past. By a strange coincidence, the interval between the posts dealing with
It so happens that I have already touched on the first and the last member of the triad whether –wether—weather in the past. By a strange coincidence, the interval between the posts dealing with [More]

Gender politics of the generic “he”

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what pronouns to use for persons whose gender is unknown, complicated, or irrelevant. Options include singular they and invented, common-gender pronouns. Each
There’s been a lot of talk lately about what pronouns to use for persons whose gender is unknown, complicated, or irrelevant. Options include singular they and invented, common-gender pronouns. Each [More]

Etymology gleanings for December 2015

I often refer to the English etymological dictionary by Hensleigh Wedgwood, and one of our correspondents became seriously interested in this work. He wonders why the third edition is not available
I often refer to the English etymological dictionary by Hensleigh Wedgwood, and one of our correspondents became seriously interested in this work. He wonders why the third edition is not available [More]

Etymology gleanings for November 2015

It is true that the etymology of homo confirms the biblical story of the creation of man, but I am not aware of any other word for “man” that is akin to the word for “earth.” Latin mas (long vowel,
It is true that the etymology of homo confirms the biblical story of the creation of man, but I am not aware of any other word for “man” that is akin to the word for “earth.” Latin mas (long vowel, [More]

The meaning of “terrorism”

Anyone who saw the terror on the faces of the people fleeing the attacks in Paris last week will agree that terrorism is the right word to describe the barbaric suicide bombings and the shooting of
Anyone who saw the terror on the faces of the people fleeing the attacks in Paris last week will agree that terrorism is the right word to describe the barbaric suicide bombings and the shooting of [More]

Emojis and ambiguity in the digital medium

The selection of emoji by Oxford Dictionaries as its Word of the Year recognises the huge increase in the use of these digital pictograms in electronic communication. While 2015 may have witnessed
The selection of emoji by Oxford Dictionaries as its Word of the Year recognises the huge increase in the use of these digital pictograms in electronic communication. While 2015 may have witnessed [More]

Katy Perry vs. William Shakespeare: Grammar showdown

Why is Katy Perry's song title "I Kissed a Girl" grammatically correct? Which famous playwright frequently mixed up "who" vs. "whom?" Are students as terrible at using modern grammar as they think
Why is Katy Perry's song title "I Kissed a Girl" grammatically correct? Which famous playwright frequently mixed up "who" vs. "whom?" Are students as terrible at using modern grammar as they think [More]

Words from books

October is an important month for book festivals—in Boston, Austin, Madison, Baton Rouge, and of course Frankfurt, Germany, which hosts the world’s oldest book festival. In honor of book festivals,
October is an important month for book festivals—in Boston, Austin, Madison, Baton Rouge, and of course Frankfurt, Germany, which hosts the world’s oldest book festival. In honor of book festivals, [More]