Author Archives: Louise

In the news (Nov 26), including a list of best grammar blogs

Ellen Jovin / Facebook

In the news this past week: a grammar guru solves the world’s grammar problems on the streets of New York City; Jonathan Franzen gets Twitter’s knickers in a twist with his rules for aspiring writers; how Calvin Harris has managed to keep his accent; and Glosso is listed among 5 best blogs for language learning …  Continue reading

Killer Queen & Royal Jelly: What’s turpentine got to do with it?


Gelatin dessert / Wikimedia

With Bohemian Rhapsody becoming the second-highest grossing music biopic of all time, Freddie Mercury and Queen are back in the news and on the airwaves. There’s a word in the chorus of “Killer Queen” (“Mercury’s piano-led paean to a Moët-quaffing courtesan”*) that I’ve only just realized I’ve been hearing wrong all these years. And I had always assumed Freddie knew something I didn’t when he sang the French loan word. How could I have been so wrong? Continue reading

Highbrow: a person to regard with admiration or disdain?


Highbrow and lowbrow come from phrenology, the 19th-century peudo-science of regarding the shape of the skull as a key to intelligence. Is highbrow — that man of high thoughts and high culture — the sort of person we all aspire to be? Or is the highbrow with his pretensions of superiority an object of disdain? Continue reading

Glosso’s menu



For Glosso readers regular and new:

Glossophilia wants to draw your attention to its menu, which allows you to choose and read particular categories of post with a simple tap or key-stroke. Whether you’re into glorious gaffes, the differences between Brit-speak and Ameri-speak, the origins of words and phrases, or stories about grammar and language that are making headline news, you can find it all organized and easy to find at Glosso.

Using the menu at the top of the computer screen (as illustrated above) or in the drop-down menu on mobile devices, you can choose to see posts that fall into the following most popular categories:

“Yanks vs Brits”: posts about differences between British English and American English

“In the news”: stories about words, language and language usage that are hitting the headlines

“Glosso’s got the gaffes”: typos, grammatical errors and other amusing language slip-ups that are making us laugh — or cringe

“Top posts”: Posts that have attracted the most readers from around the world (188 countries) over the past 7 years

In the “categories” section to the right of the web screen (and at the bottom of the mobile site) you can see  additional categories of Glosso posts*, which filter as follows: Etymology; Fonts & typefaces; Grammar; Jokes and puns; Language; Manners; Names; Nit-picking; Poems, prose & song; Pronunciation; Punctuation; Quizzes; Spelling; and Words, phrases & expressions.

Enjoy your time on the blog, and please feel free to contribute your thoughts, theories or questions and start discussions with fellow glossophiles in the comments section.


Please note that most posts fall into more than one category.


Wilfred Owen on Folkstone Beach; idea of Danny Boyle


By Wilfred Owen

Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds—
Woke once the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?


2018’s Word of the Year

Wikipedia Commons

Collins Dictionary has selected its Word of the Year 2018. As the inhabitants of Planet Earth become ever more concerned about the environment and its alarming demise, so the words we use to describe all aspects of it — from victims to culprits, scourges to solutions  — rise in frequency and everyday usage. Collins has chosen as 2018’s top dog a common adjective that labels items — mostly made of plastic — which are made to be used once, which are poorly recyclable, and which have a significant negative impact on the environment. Can you guess what the word is? Continue reading

You say smelled, I say smelt; you say dreamed, I say dreamt …

Clothes were hung up to dry …

Men were hanged at the gallows …

There are several common verbs that have more than one past tense or past participle — like spill, and hang. Where he spilt the ink, I spilled it; the villagers hung their clothes out to dry, but they hanged their thieves. Many of these usage differences are geographical, determined largely by which side of the Atlantic you’re on. (Brits tend to prefer the poetic “t” to the more formulaic “-ed”.) But not all. There are a few other factors — some of them slightly obscure, and even possibly unconscious — that can affect which past-tense version you decide to opt for. Continue reading