Category: English in use

global english

The rise of global English

‘Globish’ is not my word. In the best traditions of the English language, I borrowed it from a Frenchman who first coined it in 1995. Jean-Paul Nerriere was a senior executive with IBM. Posted to Japan in the 1990s, he made one simple, but brilliant, observation. In his work for IBM, Nerriere noticed in meetings […]

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drop

Reflections on language by… Zadie Smith

The Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus included sections labelled ‘reflections’ by some notable writers, including Zadie Smith, David Foster Wallace, and Joshua Ferris. In the first of an occasional series looking at these reflections, we’ve excerpted Zadie Smith’s thoughts about various words. All the extracts below are by Zadie Smith, and can be found in the […]

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“Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

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ballot box

The vocabulary of voting… a look at election etymology

As Britain goes to the polls, the thought of millions of people up and down the country shuffling into polling booths, quietly putting a cross on a piece of paper and dropping it into a box can sometimes make me misty-eyed about the age-old simplicity of the democratic ritual. But just as age-old as that process […]

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heart words

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Star Wars scenery

May the Fourth be with you!

May the Fourth be with you! Playing off a pun on one of the movie’s most famous quotes, 4 May is the unofficial holiday in which Star Wars fans across the globe celebrate the beloved blockbuster series. The original Star Wars movie, now known as Star Wars IV: A New Hope, was released on 25 May 1977, but to those […]

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horse racing

The language of horse-racing

2 May sees the running of the Kentucky Derby, one of the most important races in the American horse-racing calendar, in which 21 riders compete over the two kilometers of the famous Churchill Downs racecourse in Louisville, Kentucky for a total prize fund of $2,000,000. The race is also sometimes known as ‘the most exciting […]

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“A man will turn over half a library to make one book.”  (Samuel Johnson)

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