I don’t have enough time to finish this project!
What time is it?
I’ve been to France four times.
Three times two is six.
Those four sentences are all pretty simple, aren’t they? They’re the kind of sentences you might use in everyday situations without thinking about them. But look more closely at that word they all have in common: time. Continue reading
You’re probably familiar with these abbreviations, used to indicate if a year took place either on or after AD 1, or before it. You probably also know that BC stands for Before Christ, as our current calendar system is based on the assumption that Jesus Christ was born in AD 1. What about AD though?
A pretty straightforward question generally, but one with a surprisingly complex range of possible answers.
I had another of those putting-two-and-two-together moments today. I was trying to elicit the word second from a student. This was in the context of saying a date. This is often quite tricky for French speakers. In French you refer to a date as, for example, le vingt decembre (today’s date). If you were to literally translate this into English, it would be the twenty December, as opposed to the twentieth of December. French speakers often therefore take a while to get used to adding the the and of, and using the ordinal form of the number.
I was thinking about the word forearm yesterday, as I’m sure most of us do in our more pensive moments on a Tuesday evening. I thought about how easy it is to figure out its meaning by looking at the makeup of the word. Fore means front or forward (fore+ward), as we can see in words and phrases like at the forefront, foremost, to the fore, and forehead. And arm means arm.
And then I considered that the word before must also be related to these words. But that didn’t feel quite right… Continue reading
Time is money.
Such an ugly phrase, isn’t it? Only the most obnoxious, boorish oaf would use it without a trace of irony. What a perfect representation of the greedy arrogance of our late-capitalist society (i before e after c), of the desire to just make more and more money, or at least not to lose any of it.
But maybe we shouldn’t dismiss it so easily. Maybe using it isn’t just the preserve of the greedy. Look at how we talk about both time and money: Continue reading