One of my favourite fictional examples of communication issues between two people speaking different languages is in the 1991 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Darmok.” A quick synopsis: the Federation wants to open dialogue with a secretive race known as the Tamarians, but when they arrive at their planet they run into the slight problem of neither understanding the other’s language. Captain Picard is beamed down to the planet, and together with his Tamarian counterpart, they must find some way to communicate to survive in a harsh environment. Continue reading
I had some dental work recently, and that got me thinking about the apparently strange names we give to our teeth in English. Continue reading
The Beatles are responsible for a lot, of course. Producing some incredible and innovative music, and inspiring other musicians. They’re also responsible for causing people to misspell the word beetle (as in the insect). As a spelling nerd from a young age, I was long aware that the band’s name was spelled differently from the animal. I never really thought about why though. I suppose I assumed that The Beatles could do whatever they wanted, and that if they wanted to spell their name differently, that was fine. Or maybe that’s how they thought the word beetle was spelled, and who was I to correct them? Continue reading
This award was created by The Recipe Hunter, where you can find more information about it. As per the rules, I’ll link to my three best posts, and share three interesting facts about myself. Continue reading
Sometimes you really appreciate the Germanness of English. I was thinking about this, naturally enough, after the resignation of the short-lived U.S National-Security Advisor Mike Flynn (yes it’s often written as National Security Advisor, but it’s logical to hyphenate it). While watching reports on Belgian TV, I noticed that the French for National-Security Advisor is conseiller à la sécurité nationale. Oof! 5 words instead of 2 (or 3, but National-Security can be considered as one, as it’s hyphenated), 13 syllables instead of 10. This doesn’t really give a true impression of the difference though, as French syllables are generally longer than English ones, as in English we have weak forms; short vowel sounds for unemphasized syllables. Think of how brief the io sound in national is, for example, and how many people almost skip it when speaking. Continue reading
Do you have swag? Of course you do. You’re with it, you’re hip, you’re cool. You’re well aware that swag is the latest cool word among fashionable young people like yourself, and you know that it’s an uncountable noun that refers to a fashionable manner and accompanying manner. Unsurprisingly, it’s an abbreviation of swagger.
And do you know what? Swag makes me feel old. Continue reading
This is a phrase that’s very easy to misspell. I find my instinct is always to write here here, and I have remind myself that the phrase is actually hear hear. Obviously it’s confusing because the two words are homophones: words that sound identical, but have different meanings. Plus, we use it when we agree strongly with something, and neither hear nor here are normally used in that sense on their own. Where does this phrase come from? Continue reading