Category: English in use

“If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” - Giuseppe di Lampedusa  (1896–1957)

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Shakespeare gender

Analysing what Shakespeare has to say about gender

Humans are very good at reading from start to finish and collecting lots of information to understand the aggregated story a text tells, but they are very bad at keeping track of the details of language in use across many texts. Computers, in contrast, are very good at this level of detail through counting and […]

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GBBO language

How has the Great British Bake Off changed the English language?

The Great British Bake Off has sadly come to an end, but perhaps the series will live on in our words. We’ve been delving into our New Monitor Corpus—a giant word bank which we use to track changes in a word’s frequency from month to month—and we’ve investigated some of this year’s Bake Off vocabulary, […]

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OMG cat

X factor, and 8 other words that are older than you think

We’ve looked a few times at words that are older than you think, and the series continues apace: here are nine further words that you might think are recent additions to the language, but have actually been spoken and written for rather longer than you may imagine. X factor (1930) The TV show didn’t invent […]

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World Teachers' Day

World Teachers’ Day – how did our teachers get us interested in words?

Teaching is arguably one of the hardest jobs around. It is becoming increasingly demanding, and teachers are faced with the challenge of serving these demands with fewer and fewer resources. So on World Teachers’ Day we wanted to pay homage to the people that got us interested in words from a young age. We asked […]

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“Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.” - Chief Joseph  (1840–1904)

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Video: is a thumb a finger?

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language learning

Does learning a language have to be boring?

I once knew of a young guy in his mid-twenties who was a former college baseball pitcher. He was obsessed with being fit and was always working out. As an outgrowth of his obsession with being fit, he eventually came to the conclusion that what was most efficient and convenient for him diet-wise was to […]

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