Answers to writers quiz

   Tolstoy      trollopewc     TwainWC

In case anyone is still wondering about last week’s writers quiz, here are the answers below. Congratulations to Virginia Barder (full disclosure: she’s my sis, but I promise she didn’t get any inside info or extra clues) for being the first to solve it, and an honorary mention to Olivia, who solved the whole quiz within the space of about 10 minutes.  Continue reading

That Gerund Is Funky (TGIF) – April 29

TGIF … In language and usage news this month (and it’s been a good one), we have a Presidential hopeful having some trouble abroad —  in pronouncing the name of that place he’s never been to;  some landmark capitalization rules (or make that “DEcap” rules) at the AP; how personality is behind grammar nazis; does the name “Jim Wilson” mean anything to you (especially if you’re in the aviation world)?; find out which words were born in the same year as yours truly; the difference between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism; some words made famous on an iconic TV show; and some dope on pugs … Continue reading

Writers trivia quiz

Alcott   F.ScottFitzgerald   Tolstoy   wilde

A writers trivia quiz for a Sunday afternoon. A couple of the questions are fairly easy; a couple not so easy. (I’ll be interested to see if anyone gets the bonus one; my daughter reckons no-one will.) Answers will be posted here next Sunday, along with the names of anyone who guesses all four (or five) correctly. If you’ve worked any of them out, please write the first letter(s) of the key word(s) summarizing the answer in the comments section below: i.e. be cryptic — no spoilers. Good luck! Continue reading

A Shakespeare sonnet

Shakespeare

That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long

— William Shakespeare, (26 April 1564 (baptized) – 23 April 1616)

Fains, fainites, barley, pax, and other truce terms

Children playing in street, New York / Wikimedia Commons

Children playing in street, New York / Wikimedia Commons

“Pax!” we would shout, often out of breath and usually with our fingers crossed and held aloft for all our tag-mates to see. It might have been a stitch, or a shoelace that had come untied: something made us have to excuse ourselves from the game — just temporarily, for a brief and necessary time-out — and no-one, not even our arch opponents, could catch us or call us out during the time we had called for our own truce. I’m sure it’s something most of us remember from our playtime in the schoolyard. Continue reading

Days of the week

Annibale Carracci: Jupiter and Juno / Wikimedia Commons

Annibale Carracci: Jupiter and Juno / Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever wondered how the days of the week were named? In ancient Rome they were named after the planets, which in turn were named after gods. In most cases, a Germanic name resulted from the Roman god’s name being replaced by that of a similar or equivalent Germanic god. Each one is explained below, along with some common phrases that employ the day’s name. Enjoy. Continue reading

“Wens and hypertrophied members” (courtesy Fowler & Fowler)

Guess how many Wens are in this photo ...

Guess how many Wens are in this photo … (answer below)

In a section called “Euphony” in their book The King’s English, H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler give the following advice to writers, under a rather bizarre subheading: Continue reading

Nationality (and very un-PC) expressions

Copyright: pixxart / 123RF Stock Photo

Copyright: pixxart / 123RF Stock Photo

“A Texan, a Russian and a New Yorker go into a restaurant in London. The waiter tells them … “(You can read the rest of the joke here, but please come back to Glosso when you’ve finished.)

We all enjoy a bit of harmless, humorous ethno-cultural stereotyping once in a while, especially when it comes in the form of these “three nationalities” jokes. So it’s not surprising that there are also a number of popular verbal expressions that make use and fun of national cliches. Just like their jokey compatriots, these phrases are generally disrespectful of the peoples they’re targeting; in fact, some of them are downright racist and likely to cause offence. So be warned when you read this post, and please don’t shoot the messenger. Glosso presents the most common nationality expressions — many of which go back decades or even centuries — with their definitions and their origins where known or offered. If we’ve missed any, please add to the comments section below.  Continue reading