Never Mind the Bollocks

What English could really benefit from is a standard diminutive form. Many other languages have at least one common way to transform a noun into a dimunitive form, usually by adding a suffix. In French you can add -ette or -ot, Spanish often uses -ina or -ino, Portuguese the similar -inha or -inho, and Italian has a variety such as -etta/-etto and -ino/-ina.

Of course, English borrows some diminutive words from Latin languages, such as featurette, operetta, caipirinha, and duckling/gosling (from Norse). And many specific forms of English feature unique diminutive forms. Scots for example, has quite a few, mainly from older forms of English and Scottish Gaelic. Some words used in Ireland are influenced by the Irish Gaelic diminutive -ín. It’s fairly common for a male baby to be described as a cute little maneen. A country lane might be called a boreen, from the word bóithrín (from bóthair [road] + –ín).

English used to have standard diminutive forms, evidence of which we can still see today. Continue reading

My Word is My Bond

Have you ever given someone your word? Is your word your bond? Why specifically do we use these expressions when we talk about promises? What is it about a word that’s so important that we can trust it so much? I suppose it makes an idea more concrete. We can think that we want to do something for someone, but what good is it until we transform that thought into a word either by speaking it or writing it down. Once the thought’s out in the world we’re committed to it. Continue reading