Category: English in use

two solitudes

Read more »
light_large

Light, bright, and sparkling: the language of light

The UN has declared 2015 to be the ‘International Year of Light’, so we thought that was a good opportunity to look at the language of light. Unsurprisingly, light is a very old word. It appears at the beginning of one of the oldest texts in English – Aelfric’s translation of Genesis – in the […]

Read more »
chopsticks fork

Fresh Off the Boat and the language of the Asian-American experience

Fresh Off the Boat, the newest addition to the American TV channel ABC’s primetime lineup, has garnered more than its share of attention in the lead-up to its recent debut. Based on restaurateur Eddie Huang’s critically-acclaimed memoir, it’s the first sitcom in 20 years since Margaret Cho’s All-American Girl to feature an Asian-American family at […]

Read more »
queen_large

Language fit for a queen

British queens – whether monarchs in their own right or married to a king – have had an impact on English language, as befits royalty. Perhaps most obvious is the use of their names to refer to historical periods (such as the Victorian or Elizabethan eras), but that is far from their only legacy to […]

Read more »
longitude_large

Exploring the language of longitude

Words can be difficult and scary. Everyone has words that they can’t spell or can’t pronounce. I always say rhetoric wrong, and inevitably still get the ‘i’ and ‘e’ in receive the wrong way around. But words also scare us when they come with memories of difficult school lessons, or signify something that we only […]

Read more »
American football player

12 football terms you should know for Super Bowl Sunday

Although the basics of American football are clear to most Americans, some of the terms are still a bit more unfamiliar. Most people know what a pass is, and why we refer to players as running backs and receivers, but you probably don’t know why a long (nearly hopeless) pass is called a Hail Mary […]

Read more »
Rome_large

When in Rome… read some place name idioms

We recently looked at people’s names in common expressions, and now it’s the turn of place names. Why do certain locations become proverbial, and which place-related idioms have fallen out of favour? Sent to Coventry No disrespect intended to the people of Coventry, but, idiomatically at least, it is not a very pleasant place to […]

Read more »
cat meme large

The language of memes – and how to create your own

English is a truly global language with hundreds of regional variations worldwide, including over 50 dialects of British English alone. It is also the primary language of the internet, and the virtual world has spawned its own varieties of English too. These online dialects, often spread by memes, have been around long enough now for […]

Read more »

Tweets