Tag Archives: English language

Mariah Carey’s words

Mariah Carey’s been around for a long time. She’s apparently one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold over 200 million records worldwide. She’s also known for writing her own lyrics, and Gawker has pointed out that she has a somewhat peculiar word choice at times. Here are some examples: Acquiescent – […]

Is crowdsourcing a dictionary a good idea?

We’ve mentioned a few different dictionaries here over the years, including recently the news that Collins are taking a crowdsourced approach to adding new words. In an interesting article, Deborah Cameron discusses the advantages and disadvantages of crowdsourced dictionaries. An extract: One objection to this might be that what results from it in practice is […]

Are you a geek?

A friend of mine identifies as a geek; he even worked for the Geek Squad for a while. But some seem the term as derogatory – particularly if going by dictionary definitions. Google’s dictionary defines a geek as “an unfashionable or socially inept person” with a secondary meaning of “a person with an eccentric devotion […]

Language of the future

What language will people speak in the future? That’s the subject of a chapter from new book “The Language Wars: A History of Proper English” by Farrar, Straus and Girous, extracted at Salon.com. English currently continues to dominate as the lingua franca of business and popular culture and it’s widely used in other industries. It’s […]

People who became nouns

Have you ever wondered why the skin-tight one piece mostly seen on gymnasts is called a leotard? Or why a bathtub with massage jets is called a Jacuzzi? Then this slideshow from Slate is for you! Jacuzzi is the name of the Italian immigrant brothers who first invented a particular type of hot tub. The […]

Language lessons at the Laundromat

A multimedia artist in New York City is planning to teach English – at a Laundromat. Hector Canonge will teach two one-hour English classes a week, as part of his public art project, The Inwood Laundromat Language Institute. What was the inspiration behind the project? “There are a lot of newcomers [to the United States] […]

Um, I think this will be er, useful

An article on Slate.com comes out in praise of ‘verbal stumbles’ – the “uhs”, “ums” and “ers” we all use to fill in gaps in our speech. Apparently there is an organisation called Toastmasters International who charge every time one of these fillers is used. And conventional wisdom says using fillers rather than staying silent […]


A portmanteau is a blend of two or more words into one – Chinglish for example. Arnold Zwicky’s blog has a list of some portmanteau words from the last year and a half: 1. jeggings 2. Gleek (“a portmanteau that won the American Dialect Society competition for 2010 Word of the Year in the (new) […]

A history of English in 10 minutes!

It may not sound possible, but the history of English has been encapsulated in 10 short videos totalling 10 minutes. Created by The Open University, the videos span time from Anglo-Saxon English to modern-day Global English. The entire collection of videos is linked here. I particularly like the illustrations used in The Age of the […]