Category Archives: In the news …

Glosso fodder that’s making headlines

Bus, buses, busses

AP Style’s wry tip of the month …

According to Grammarist:

“Notwithstanding Great Caesar’s assertion regarding ‘busses’ as being a kiss (an archaic definition retained only in very few dialects), busses is commonly accepted as the correct form for the verb ‘to bus’ as in he/she/it busses. Buses is the plural of the noun ‘bus’.”

You can hear the singular “buss” in this song, ‘Spin on a Red Brick Floor’: take it away, Nanci Griffith:

Busses,
Glosso
xoxo

Hat tip to Rona

In the news … The importance of good spelling (in dating and in life)

Illustration from Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary (1890—1907) / Wikimedia Commons

Spelling is important. It can affect your chances of getting a job, your love life, and it can make us appear less intelligent than we are. A recent BBC article spells it all out for us.

“Research shows that as soon as people spot a spelling mistake on a website they’ll often leave it because they fear it’s fraudulent.

Corporations are aware that a portion of their image rests upon correct writing and spelling, says Roslyn Petelin, associate professor in writing at the University of Queensland in Australia. ‘Nothing can make you lose credibility more quickly and seem uneducated than a spelling mistake, and that includes apostrophes,’ she says.

… Indeed, a lack of a certain level of proficiency may be a barrier to getting a job at all. A lot of employers in Australia now ask candidates to take writing tests, says Petelin. ‘Young people coming out of university may have all the right interpersonal skills, but if they can’t write coherently, employers won’t give them a job.’

Poor spelling can even affect your dating chances. A Match.com survey found that 39% of singles judged the suitability of candidates by their grammar.”

Read the full story at the BBC.

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Goodbye ladies & gentlemen; hello everyone

Central London Railway (now Central Line) motor car 1903 / Wikimedia Commons

“The ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greeting on Tube announcements is to be scrapped, Transport for London (TfL) has announced. London Underground staff have been told to say “hello everyone” in an effort to become more gender-neutral. … The revised phrasing will be applied to all new pre-recorded announcements made across the capital’s transport network.” Read the full story on BBC News.

And while we’re on the subject of gender-neutral language: “Malta might be the next country to bring in marriage equality after the country’s government brought forward legislation to removed gender language from their marriage laws. The draft law would abolish gendered terms such as “husband”, “wife”, “mother” and “father” from the country’s Marriage Act and other laws and replace them with gender-neutral terminology. The move has the support of the centre-right opposition Nationalist party.” Read more in OutinPerth.

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Ich sage marmalade, you say jam … (But maybe not for long)

Frank Coopers Oxford Marmalade / Wikimedia Commons

“Brussels MEP plots sweet revenge for Brexit by changing definition of MARMALADE so it includes German jam.” So screamed one of the more bizarre headlines in Tuesday’s Daily Mail. What does marmalade actually mean?

According to the OED, it’s “a preserve made from citrus fruit, especially bitter oranges.”

As the Daily Mail went on to explain, “Under EU rules the spread — a staple of many British breakfast tables and beloved by Paddington Bear — can only be labeled such if it contains at least 20 per cent citrus fruit. … This enshrines in law the British definition that it refers exclusively to spreads made from oranges or lemons. But Germans have traditionally used the name to refer to all sorts of jams made from a variety of fruits including strawberries and plums. … Jakob von Weizsäcker, a German socialist member of the European Parliament, called for the definition to be changed.” You can’t make this stuff up…

Etymonline offers this history of the name of the sweet spread: “late 15c: from Middle French marmelade, from Portuguese marmelada “quince jelly, marmalade,” from marmelo “quince,” by dissimilation from Latin melimelum “sweet apple,” originally “fruit of an apple tree grafted onto quince,” from Greek melimelon, from meli “honey” + melon “apple”. Extended 17c. to “preserve made from citrus fruit.”

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In the news: the return of Jay-Z’s hyphen

The newly rehyphenated Jay-Z

“It’s simple really. First there was a rapper called Jay-Z, who was very popular until 2013. Then he disappeared and was replaced with someone called Jay Z. But yesterday a new album was announced by someone called JAY-Z. … The musician’s hyphen has been reinstated with the announcement of his new album – but he’s far from the first pop star to opt for a change of moniker.” Read the full story in The Guardian.

And see Glossophilia’s earlier post from July 2013: “Jay Z no longer mononymous” …

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Forensic linguists play part in 20-year-old murder case

29043308 - magnifying glass on an old handwritten letter

Magnifying glass on an old handwritten letter / 123RF

What exactly is — or are — “forensic linguistics”? It’s the application of linguistic knowledge, methods and insights to the forensic context of law, language, crime investigation, trial, and judicial procedure. Here’s an example of it.

Retired FBI agent James Fitzgerald is one of the U.S.’s most prominent forensic linguists: as well as advising on some of TV’s popular fictional crime and forensics shows, he was on the investigative teams of two high-profile criminal cases of the last couple of decades: the Unabomber, and the murder of JonBenét Ramsey in 1996. The Ramsey case was recently back in the news, with a new TV documentary detailing a new, independent investigation of that 20-year-old crime. As part of the new investigative team, Fitzgerald returned to the scene of the crime to analyze in detail the notorious ransom note that became such a mysterious and vital part of the unsolved homicide. He talked to Yahoo TV about the significance of that 370-word document, and the various things it revealed about the person who wrote it. Here are a couple of excerpts from that interview: Continue reading

The spelling (& Jerkish) of the President: update

IMG_3905We are humbeled, Mr President.

UPDATE:

As the great American novelist Philip Roth has recently commented to the New Yorker: “Whatever I may have seen as their limitations of character or intellect, neither [Richard Nixon nor George W. Bush] was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

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In the news … (Friday, Oct 21)

Portrait of Cod; Wikimedia Commons

Portrait of Cod; Wikimedia Commons

In grammatical and usage news this past month: a political email scandal involving risotto and apostrophes; some fishy regional accents, literally; how we’ll all be talking in 50 years’ time; Trump gets it wrong yet again; a British supermarket with a name that’s already been taken (by Iceland, for itself); a dictionary goes online; and those familiar experiences and concepts that desperately need a word or name to describe them  … Continue reading

In the news … (Friday, Sep 16)

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543) via Wikimedia Commons

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/1498–1543) via Wikimedia Commons

In usage and grammar news this past month: how and why we curse (or swear, if you’re a profane Brit); a new app for grammar snobs; a celebrity scolds Siri for mispronouncing her name; names that parents regret giving their babies; the true nature of the word gypsy; and a grammar rule that we all use without knowing it. Continue reading

In the news … (Aug 12)

einstien

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