An American flat: once an upmarket tenement?

Kitchen in the Vanderbilt tenements, 1912; Wikimedia Commons

Kitchen in the Vanderbilt tenements, 1912; Wikimedia Commons

The other day I read an article in the New York Times, from 2011, about a particular block on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that had a colorful history. One particular sentence jumped out at me, and I’ve bolded the part that caught my interest: “The handsome red brick apartment houses at 167 through 173 West 83rd Street are one of McKim, Mead & White’s minor commissions; even famous architects have to put food on the drafting table. People often call such buildings tenements, but these were known then as flats, for tenants a notch or two above the working class. They got one three-bedroom apartment per floor.” Were those dwellings really once known as flats, in the heart of New York City? Continue reading

TGIF: That Gerund Is Funky (Aug 12)


Spot the spelling mistake in this Gap ad …

TGIF: That Gerund Is Funky. And it’s been a while, so we have a number of lingo and language news items from the last few weeks to share today. But before we go any further, can you spot the rather awkward spelling mistake in the Gap ad above? The first person to identify it in the comments section below gets serious Glosso respect. Meanwhile, in the news this month: how commentators in Rio are being accused of turning nouns into verbs; an analysis of the monstrous period at the end of texts; is the word “bitch” still that offensive?; Latin abbreviations removed from a government’s web sites; a task-force cleaning up menu translations in South Korea; and a teacher’s fears about kids’ creativity being crushed by punctuation police.  Continue reading

“Stochastic terrorism”


Donald Trump, Laconia Rally, photo Michael Vadon / Wikimedia Commons

It can’t have escaped most people’s notice that a candidate for the President of the United States — that male one — has just issued a veiled threat in his most recent campaign speech, apparently and obliquely inciting his followers to take violent action against his political rival, and in so doing he has engaged in what some might call an act of “stochastic terrorism”. Continue reading

The name “Republican”


Donald Trump, presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for President of the U.S.

To mark the start of the Republican National Convention, which starts tomorrow in Cleveland, Ohio, Glossophilia takes a look at the origins of the name of the party formed 162 years ago, as well as its nickname, “GOP”.  Continue reading

An EU primer: the European Union, its predecessors, and other Euro communities

Should they stay or should they go? This week, the British electorate will vote in a referendum deciding whether or not the United Kingdom will withdraw from the European Union. It wasn’t always called the European Union, though; some of us remember the EEC and other acronyms describing various European communities. Glosso refreshes our memories. Continue reading

Spot the curious mistake


Can you see the curious mistake* in this tag on a popular lunch bag? (And I’m not referring to the headline-case caps; you can read more about cap styling at this earlier Glosso post.)

At the risk of giving away the answer, Glosso finds it slightly strange that it looks like the error of a non-native English-speaker who is spelling phonetically a word pair (and a curious choice of words at that), and the phonetic translation only works if it’s pronounced with a British accent — but the company that produces the lunch bag is U.S.-based. Go figger.

Answers on a postcard please

* Well, Glosso assumes it’s a mistake

*   *   *