Category: English in use

There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us lands away / Nor any Courses like a Page / Of prancing Poetry - Emily Dickinson

Read more »
marathon running

The language of long-distance running

I imagine it’s much the same when you join a cult. At first, you fool yourself into thinking you won’t be sucked in. You look down on all those ‘fanatics’ who have let it get the better of them, adamant that it’s something you only dabble in occasionally. Yet over time you start to change. […]

Read more »
procrastinate synonyms

5 historical synonyms for procrastinate

Delaying an important but arduous task in favour of a more pleasurable less urgent one? Surely everybody has been guilty of doing that at some point, and, as you probably know, there’s a great word for it – procrastinate. Apparently people have been procrastinating since the late 16th century, when the verb first came into […]

Read more »
false friends

Shakespeare’s false friends

False friends (‘faux amis’) are words in one language which look the same as words in another. We therefore think that their meanings are the same, and get a shock when we find they are not. Generations of French students have believed that demander means ‘demand’ (whereas it means ‘ask’) or librairie means ‘library’ (instead […]

Read more »

seen things

Read more »
twin peaks

The value of Cooper’s ‘straight talk’ in Twin Peaks

When we talk about ‘television language’ — what’s special to a particular series — we usually focus on words or catchphrases or grammatical patterns highlighted, if not invented, on the show. We’re attracted to the verbal antics of The Simpsons, the yadda yadda yadda playfulness of Seinfeld, the zippy slang of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and […]

Read more »
jazz nicknames

How did jazz musicians end up with all those nicknames?

‘Old Blue Eyes’. ‘The Queen of Soul’. ‘Muddy Waters’. ‘The King’. Nicknames are an integral part of the history of popular music in the United States. They not only lend musicians a distinctive identity, but they also serve to create a sense of familiarity between musician and listener. Nicknames connect audiences to performers who, on […]

Read more »
epidemic

Contagious metaphors: from Typhoid Mary to quarantine

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the final quarantine of Mary Mallon, better known as ‘Typhoid Mary’, who was the first recognized asymptomatic carrier of typhoid. An Irish-born cook in the New York City metropolitan area, Mallon caused several outbreaks of typhoid in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. While several dozen infections […]

Read more »

Tweets