“Grammar do’s all the Art and Knowledge teach, According to the Use of every Speech … ” (1712)
Updated on March 4, 2021 … It’s National Grammar Day! What better way to celebrate than to take a journey through the podcasts, blogs and tables* of grammar and language-usage land. A lot of the old familiar grammar and usage blogs — like so many of the planet’s blogs — have sadly fallen by the proverbial wayside. However, others pop up, with new, fresh voices, and as long as Earthlings continue to write and talk, there will be people talking and writing about how we do just that. Here’s a guide to some of the most lively and articulate grammar and usage commentators whom you can listen to, read — or even meet on the street … Continue reading
In a recent family Zoom call, my mum (who’s now in her 80s) made an interesting observation: the main topic of conversation these days – because let’s face it, what else is there to talk about? – is vaccines and vaccinations; but back in the day, when my sibs and I were infants and littlies, the talk was more of inoculations. I still have my old “inoculation” booklets for myself and for my own children when we were babes in arms or toddlers; these were the jabs to prevent diseases like Diptheria and Tetanus, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (“MMR”) that we all had to get before going to school and taking part in the big party called life. But then there’s my yellow “vaccination” booklet, which first started getting stamped with names like cholera and smallpox and yellow fever back in the late ’60s when my family started to travel and live abroad. Do those two words – inoculation and vaccination – have essentially different meanings? Is it to do with what exactly is being injected or ingested, or perhaps to do with their respective goals or the way they are being delivered? Or are they in fact synonymous, with vaccination simply being more trendy in our pandemic-torn times?Continue reading
“A language is far more than a means of communication; it is the very condition of our humanity. Our values, our beliefs and our identity are embedded within it. It is through language that we transmit our experiences, our traditions and our knowledge. The diversity of languages reflects the incontestable wealth of our imaginations and ways of life.” So explained UNESCO’s Director-General Audrey Azoulay three years ago on February 21: International Mother Language Day.
What follows is a brief history of the UNESCO international day that was inaugurated in 1952 to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism.Continue reading
You say ‘erb (using the silent French ‘h’), I say herb (the way it’s spelt). Here’s a good example of the difference between the American pronunciation (usually referred to as General American, or GA) and the Received Pronunciation (British English, RP) of foreign loan words — ie. words that have been adopted into standard English from other languages, many from centuries ago. Many will argue that RP has tended more to assimilate these words and pronounce them according to English spelling-pronunciation rules rather than to the way the original word sounds. So fillet (or filet), meaning a small boneless cut of meat (derived from the French word filet), is pronounced by the Brits as “FILL-uht”, in the way that its English spelling prescribes. Americans prefer to approximate the French accent with their more exotic rendering, “fi-LAY”. However, there are many exceptions to this rule, as illustrated in some of the examples below.Continue reading
Well, which is it? Presidents Day, President‘s Day or Presidents‘ Day? Is the name of the American public holiday, which we’ll be celebrating on Monday, spelled with an apostrophe or not? And assuming it is a possessive day, i.e. belonging to either the first or all of our presidents, where should the punctuation be placed accordingly? Continue reading
Here are 20 everyday things (objects and phenomena) that surprisingly have their own not-so-well-known names. How many do you know? How many can you guess?Continue reading
There’s a grammatical moral* to this unshaggy dog story…Continue reading
Two big brands had red faces in recent days thanks to typos on their commercial products. Here’s how they handled their respective boo-boos.Continue reading
Today I learned something new, about the way a name is “properly” pronounced. Even though this is a name I hear almost every day in my professional life (and I even used to pass the famous building that bears its name every day when I worked in an office), I never really thought about how it should be pronounced. Take it away, YouTube …
Hat-tip to Max for bringing it to my attention.