Prince Harry is engaged! His bride-to-be is Meghan Markle. Here’s what you need to know about her name(s). Continue reading
*This post has been updated and revised to reflect the many comments suggesting my original post was misinformed.
When I’m back in Blighty, I stay at my family home in Magdalen Road in South West London. Try asking a taxi driver to take you to “Maudlin” Road (as the name Magdalen(e) is historically pronounced in the UK), and you’ll probably be met with a blank stare — even by those London cabbies who’ve aced The Knowledge. You are actually more likely to hear that increasingly dated pronunciation when you visit Cambridge, whose Magdalene College sounds more like Maud than Magda. The same is true for its sister college in Oxford — which is spelled nearly the same way but without the final “e”. Which pronunciation — if either — is correct: the “maudlin”-sounding Cambridge and Oxford colleges, or the more modern three-syllable “MAG-duh-lin” that you’ll hear nowadays in most other parts of England? Continue reading
“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.”
“Controversially, I understand the Cornish pasty may have been invented in Devon.” This explosive statement was made yesterday by Celia Richardson, the director of communications for Historic England. Er – what? Continue reading
As my friend Clyde recently, idly, commented on Facebook: “4am thought. It’s pretty random that the paper fragment created when you three-hole punch paper is called a “Chad” and the brass fastener you put through that hole is called a “Brad”. Why do these stationery terms have the most bro-y names (ironically, possibly names of people most likely to generally punch holes in things)?” Jacob B had some more bro-y names to add to the toolbox: Continue reading
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 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
On the eve of the Democratic National Convention, which starts in Philadelphia tomorrow, Glossophilia examines the history of the party’s name, and of its mascot, which itself derives from the name of the Democratic Party’s founder. (See also Glosso’s post last week about the origins of the Republican name.) Continue reading
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
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