Category: English in use

Video: is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

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maths

Putting two and two together: mathematical expressions

As somebody who loves words and English literature, I have often been assumed to be a natural enemy of the mathematical mind. And, if we’re being honest, my days of calculus and the hypotenuse are behind me, but, with those qualifications under my belt, I did learn that the worlds of words and numbers are […]

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reef

Australian English: eponymous words

The Australian English words recently added to OxfordDictionaries.com include a wealth of interesting words from a wide range of spheres. Among these are several that are named after people, real or hypothetical, and we have turned our attention particularly to those. While not all of these are in everyday use in Australia now, they all […]

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right word

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napoleon1

How to make palindromes

26 February marks the 200th anniversary of Napoleon Bonaparte’s victorious escape from the isle of Elba. He had been banished there a year earlier, as part of the Treaty of Fountainebleau. It was this act of exile that created the historical pretext for one of the best known palindromes in the English language, Able was […]

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paper cut figures

Clarity about ‘the gay thing’

Sometimes, we say what we don’t really mean. ‘You look really tired’, for example, when we mean to be caring rather than disparaging of appearance. ‘I thought you were older than that!’ when we mean to applaud maturity rather than further disparage appearance. And so it is with the gay thing. The accidental difference between […]

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foreign life

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2013 oscar winners

How to ‘Thank the Academy’: making a successful Oscar acceptance speech

It’s Academy Award time, and lucky winners will be accepting their Oscars and thanking the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, their families, mentors, and colleagues. In linguistic terms, what makes an acceptance speech succeed where others fail? Thanking is a speech act—a way that we use words to do as well as say. Such speech […]

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