The Most Unkindest Cut of All

At some point yesterday I came across the expression in the title of this post. I can’t remember where exactly, but it’s a pretty common phrase. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen or heard it, but this time, something seemed strange. Then I realised what it was: the most unkindest cut!? Continue reading

Uninterested or Disinterested?

What? I already told you, remember!?

I’m usually pretty understanding when it comes to commonly-confused words, but this one annoys me, simply because of how I often I see people get it wrong (almost always using disinterested when they mean uninterested).

OK, so explaining the difference between the two words is pretty straightforward, but why does one begin with dis-, and one with un-? Continue reading

Hello Europe!

This evening I was at my parents’ house, watching a little TV after Sunday dinner. I don’t really watch much TV anymore, at least not in the conventional broadcast sense, apart from Sunday afternoons at home. Gaelic football matches are the usual background noise to Sunday-afternoon dinner, but we had it a bit later today, so I found myself watching an interesting nature programme.

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Foreign Words in English: Are we Getting them Wrong? (Not Really, No)

I think it’s only fair, after looking at the way the French language uses pseudo-anglicisms (a lovely term I came across earlier), it’s only fair that I take a corresponding look at foreign words we use in English, and how their use is different from in their original language. Unsurprisingly, we use a lot of foreign terms, and with most English speakers being monolingual, we don’t always use them as they were originally intended.

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The English Language and Social Class

I’ve still been thinking about common mispronunciations since Saturday. While doing a little casual googling to confirm what I suspected about which mispronunciations annoyed people, I came across a post which featured some of the more common language errors that bedevil Americans in particular. They were all there: supposably, libary, literally, irregardless, aks et al. And I can understand why they might be annoying. If you say one thing, and someone else says another, that’s annoying. Even more so if the dictionary agrees with you. Getting annoyed is ok, but are such errors really a sign of the death of the English language?

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G & T Please!

Ordering food and drink in another country can be a harrowing experience. What if I don’t know what anything means? What if they don’t understand me? What if I order it ok, but then they ask me a question I don’t understand!? Luckily, there are usually a few things that are easy to order, in some countries. One example is a gin & tonic. In many languages, including French, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, and Japanese, the drink is known as a gin tonic. Pretty convenient, if you’re abroad and want to order a drink without embarrassing yourself with any of that funny foreign pronunciation. But why don’t they go the whole hog, and say gin and tonic? Continue reading

Commonly-Confused Words

One of the downsides to the richness of the English language’s vocabulary is that there are so many words that are similar in appearance and sound, yet with distinct meanings. The result of this is that it can be very easy to confuse the meaning of two different words. Generally this isn’t such a problem, as most confusing words are similar enough in meaning that it doesn’t really make a difference if you mix them up. Still, using the wrong word can often change one’s meaning, or even lead to embarrassment, so here are some of the most commonly-confused words in the English language: Continue reading