Once, Twice, Three Times…

I was wondering this morning why we say once and twice as alternatives to one time and two times in English.

It’s one of these things learners of English find it hard to remember to use. Partly it’s because there’s no greater pattern at work, as for every other number after one and two we just say three times, four times etc. It’s also because most other languages use the equivalent of one time and two times.

So why does English have to be awkward, once again, and not just use one time and two times? Continue reading

The Metal Umlaut

You’ve probably seen a lot of umlauts in your lifetime. They’re common in German, and look like this: ö. Those two little dots over a little vowel. English of course also has an identical diacritic, the diaeresis. But I already told you that. What I want to look at today though is the umlaut, and one type of umlaut in particular: the metal umlaut. Continue reading