Category: English in use

The language of skateboarding

The language of skateboarding

Today is Go Skateboarding Day – an annual celebration of skateboarding intended to promote the sport and make it more accessible to the uninitiated. Skateboarding began in California in the 1940s, invented by surfers looking for excitement when the waves were too flat to surf; the earliest skateboards were devised by adding roller skate wheels […]

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Refugee vs migrant: how do we talk about people who leave their home country?

Expat, migrant, refugee: how do we talk about people who leave their home country?

Since 2001 – the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees – World Refugee Day is held each year on 20 June to raise global awareness of the situation of people displaced by war and violence around the world. Last month, refugee was chosen as the Oxford Children’s Word of […]

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Words beginning with wl-

11 words beginning with wl-

You might have thought that there aren’t any words in English that begin with the letters wl-. And, if you were thinking of those in common use today, you would be right. However, as a historical dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) also contains lots of words which are now obsolete – including a surprising […]

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How many words begin with ‘x’?

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The language of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Don’t Panic: the language of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was originally written as a radio script, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1978 in 6 episodes described as fits – a term used for a section of a poem that goes back to Old English. The Hitchhiker’s Guide appeared in book form in 1979; since then it has […]

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How many words are there in the English language?

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13 synonyms for 'unlucky'

13 ways to say ‘unlucky’

Friday 13th has long been considered an unlucky day in the West, at least by some people; this dates back to the Middle Ages. Though it’s often treated whimsically, a word for a phobia of the day has been suggested: paraskevidekatriaphobia, by analogy with the existing word for a phobia of the number 13, triskaidekaphobia. […]

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political catchphrases and nicknames

What’s in a nickname? Lyin’ Ted, L’il Marco, and the art of the political catchphrase

The US Presidential race is taking yet another twist in its long road to the White House this week, as voters in Indiana head to the polls for their primary contest. The race to become a party’s nominee is usually all but settled by this time of year, but in 2016, at least on the […]

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