Guest blogger

Joanna Rubery

Joanna Rubery was an Online Editor for Oxford Dictionaries and now teaches.

Articles by Joanna Rubery


Is Polish the most difficult language to learn?

Is Polish the most difficult language to learn?

How ethical is it to start working in a country where you don’t speak the local language? Before I started teaching English in Poland, this question didn’t trouble me in the slightest. When I taught in Sardinia, I spoke enough Italian to get by; and nobody in Cambodia expected foreign teachers to speak any Khmer […]

French flag

Quiz: French words no longer used in French

Read the paragraph below; even if you don’t think you speak French, you’ll probably understand exactly what is being said… Imagine a rather bijou little hotel tucked away down a Parisian cul-de-sac, the kind with a rather louche air of faux decadence where the ensuite has a bidet and every night there’s a cabaret in […]

spanish

Loving Latin

Have you ever wondered just how far your language GCSE will get you in the wild? I set out to road-test my dusty Spanish qualification last year by travelling through Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, sometimes alone and sometimes with fellow English speakers, with a short stop-off as a classroom assistant in darkest Peru. My (lack […]

The Academie Francaise controls the 'official' vocabulary of French

Can the Académie française stop the rise of Anglicisms in French?

It’s official: binge drinking is passé in France. No bad thing, you may think; but while you may now be looking forward to a summer of slow afternoons marinating in traditional Parisian café culture, you won’t be able to sip any fair trade wine, download any emails, or get any cash back – not officially, […]

What is a second cousin and other questions about the family tree

What is a second cousin? and other cousin questions

It would always throw people when we told them. The four of us – my sister and I, and the two boys – spent all our school holidays together, and we all had dark hair. So when people asked if my “brothers” wanted an ice cream too, I’d have to take a deep breath and […]

Jersey

The language of Jersey: little toads and the glove of a Queen

There was one thing I wanted to know as the plane touched down: were we actually abroad? On the one hand, everyone was driving on the left, paying in pounds, and speaking in English (albeit with what sounded like a faintly South African accent). On the other, everything was the wrong colour: yellow telephone boxes, […]

Chasing the rainbow connection

Chasing the rainbow connection

Reflect and refract When was the last time you looked out the window and said, “Oh look! There’s a many-coloured refraction of light from drops of water!”? Well – OK, if you said that last week then feel free to skip the next paragraph, but most of us refer to the sudden splash of colours […]

Guillotine

Towering achievements: everyday objects named after French people (part 2)

Earlier in the year, inspired by the anniversary of the Eiffel Tower, OxfordWords discussed a variety of eponymous French inventions, from madeleine to nicotine. In this second part, we turn our attention towards other French inventions which bear the name of the person who discovered, invented, or inspired them… A shadow of his former self […]

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