I may have missed Talk Like Shakespeare Day by a couple of weeks, but it’s never really too late to celebrate the Bard!
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel officially proclaimed April 23rd 2013 “Talk Like Shakespeare Day” in honour of the man’s 449th birthday. Some guidelines for celebrating the day include:
1. Instead of you, say thou or thee (and instead of y’all, say ye).
2. Rhymed couplets are all the rage.
3. Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.
4. Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms orpoisonous bunch-back’d toads.
5. Don’t waste time saying “it,” just use the letter “t” (’tis, t’will, I’ll do’t).
(Source: Talk Like Shakespeare)
Tell me: did you celebrate Talk Like Shakespeare Day? Or do you need to brush up on your skills by taking English classes in Washington?
This is a fun article, identifying new words that have come from the Internet and the stories behind them.
A personal favourite that I find very useful is number 8:
There’s a special place in my heart for the supremely useful three letters of “meh”, which express an almost infinitely flexible contemporary species of indifference. In its basic exclamatory form, it suggests something along the lines of “OK, whatever”. As an adjective, it takes on a more ineffable flavour: “it was all very meh”. You can even use it as a noun: “I stand by my meh.” Apparently first recorded in a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, some theories trace meh back to the disdainful Yiddish term mnyeh. Its ascent towards canonical status, though, embodies a thoroughly digital breed of boredom. (Source: Guardian)
I wonder what the equivalent of ‘meh’ is in other languages? Perhaps someone taking Italian classes in Chicago can tell us!
Have you ever thought “Hey. What’s the word for freshly melted snow? No… not slush.”
Well, it’s snowbroth! Yep, according to this Buzzfeed article, snowbroth dates from the 1590s and simply means “freshly melted snow”.
Not got enough uses for snowbroth? What about snoutfair? It means a good looking person. As in “Ryan Gosling’s a total snoutfair”.
These and 25 other words are collected (along with cute owl pics) in the Buzzfeed article “27 delightful obsolete words it’s high time we revived”. Which one will you choose to help bring back?
If you prefer to use the modern English language though, it’s probably best you take up English lessons in Chicago.
Many people complain that English is difficult to grasp because of its grammar.
Helpfully, The Week has written a list of seven grammar rules you really should pay attention to, particularly if you’re writing for public consumption.
2. Bad parallelism
This issue comes up most often in lists, for example: My friend made salsa, guacamole, and brought chips. If you start out by having made cover the first two items, it has to cover subsequent ones as well. To fix, you usually have to do just a little rewriting. Thus, My friend made salsa and guacamole and brought chips to go with them. (Source: The Week)
If you’re having difficulty learning English, there are classes in Calgary you can try.
An interesting article in Slate explores whether we still need email signatures.
The author argues that signatures are a hangover from writing letters, and have no place in the modern world.
But in 2013, when bots outnumber benefactors by a wide margin, the continued and consistent use of antiquated signoffs in email is impossible to justify. At this stage of the game, we should be able to interact with one another in ways that reflect the precise manner of communication being employed, rather than harkening back to old standbys popular during the age of the Pony Express. (Source: Slate)
At work I’m generally prone to using ‘regards’ or ‘kind regards’ as an email signoff. Personal emails to friends take the authors preferred form, with no greeting or signoff. What do you think?
Couponing has become a big thing in this country, even making it on to TV with shows like extreme couponing. It even has its own lingo!
The Wordnik blog has listed their ten favourite couponing words, here’s a selection:
Blinkies are a type of coupon dispensed from a machine in a store aisle or at checkout. The machine generally has a blinking red light designed to get shoppers’ attention.
A catalina coupon is printed at the register after purchase, and is named for the marketing firm behind the idea. (Source: Wordnik)
Now you know the lingo, it might be time to get couponing!
To round off this month of words of the year, banished words and annoying phrases, let’s take a look at a list of words that were once considered professional jargon, but are now in everyday use.
The most interesting (for me) of a list that includes contact, antibody and reliable, is interview.
While interview may have been a proper alternative to contact in 1931, people weren’t always friendly to it, at least in the sense where it means the asking of questions by members of the press. An 1882 book on rhetoric describes how this verb was “first accepted in jest, then violently denounced, and finally, by a strange fate, it appears to be accepted with mournful resignation.” In 1890, a New York Times article took to task the “newspaper fiends who have forced us to admit to the rights of citizenship the verb ‘to interview.’” (Source: Mental Floss)
Take a look at the rest of the list over at Mental Floss.
Many people now have LinkedIn profiles – and there are many ways to describe yourself and your skills.
It seems that “creative” is the most popular way though. LinkedIn has released its list of top 10 buzzwords on the site, with “creative” topping the list.
5. Extensive Experience
6. Track Record
10. Problem Solving
Interestingly, this list differs slightly outside of the US, with Brazilians preferring “experimental” and the Swiss “analytical”.
There’s plenty of talk at the moment of America being on the edge of a fiscal cliff. But what does it mean, and what is the origin of the term?
It’s commonly used to describe the combination of tax increases and budget cuts that will come into place on January 1st, unless Congress agrees a deal before then. These could potentially be bad for the economy.
Linguist and language columnist Ben Zimmer explained the origins of the term to NPR:
Well, fiscal cliff was first popularized last February when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned of the coming fiscal cliff that would take effect with these spending cuts and tax increases. But the term itself has actually been used for a few decades to refer to various types of budget crises.
There was a Dallas Morning News editorial in 1975 when New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy. And it was talking about what would happen if New York City went over the fiscal cliff. So it’s been a powerful metaphor for a while now. (Source: NPR)
The term has become so popular it’s even in contention for word of the year… watch this space.
Russia is apparently not a very friendly place for the non-Russian speaker. All signs are in Cyrillic with no helpful English translation, although English is the most-spoken foreign language by its population.
This may change though, with the launch of Moscow’s first 24 hour English language radio station. The station will mostly play international music, and it is hoped that it will be listened to by visitors to the city to find out about events. Its PR director said she hoped the station would become popular amongst those learning English as well as foreign tourists and expats.
“Today we are opening the first English-language radio station in Moscow. I hope that this station will open our city towards the whole world,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said in a statement. (Source: Ria Novosti)
English classes are available in Vancouver and Chicago.