Articles, quizzes, and grammar tips for word-lovers everywhere

Category: English in use

Declaration of Independence

Rhetorical fireworks for the Fourth of July

Ever since 4 July 1777 when citizens of Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary of American independence with a fireworks display, the “rockets’ red glare” has lent a military tinge to this national holiday. But the explosive aspect of the patriots’ resistance was the incendiary propaganda that they spread across the thirteen colonies. A rhetorical Declaration […]

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Pele quotation

The first rule of football is… don’t call it soccer

The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language – a phrase commonly attributed to George Bernard Shaw sometime in the 1940s, although apparently not to be found in any of his published works. Perhaps another way of looking at it is to say that they are two countries separated […]

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social media

How social media is changing language

From unfriend to selfie, social media is clearly having an impact on language.  As someone who writes about social media I’m aware of not only how fast these online platforms change, but also of how they influence the language in which I write. The words that surround us every day influence the words we use. […]

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8 gaming words

8 words every gamer needs to know

You may play a round or two of Tetris on your phone to fend off boredom from time to time (in fact, I don’t think I know a single person who hasn’t given this game a go). You might even be pretty good at it. But it seems safe to say that you probably won’t […]

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10 tricky pronunciations

10 tricky pronunciations

Recently we learned – if we were in any doubt – that Nike want their name pronounced Nikey (or, to put it in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), ˈnʌɪki). Those of us familiar with our Greek deities already knew that the company’s namesake and goddess of victory pronounced her name that way, but opinion differed […]

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The language of Thomas Hardy

The language of Thomas Hardy

Writing about Hardy’s poetic language, Edmund Blunden, one of his most perceptive critics, noted that it is ‘sometimes a peculiar compound of the high-flown and the dull. If he means “I asked” he is liable to say “I queried” or rather “Queried I”; he is liable to “opine” instead of think. … He goes his road […]

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Maya Angelou quote

Maya Angelou’s legacy encompasses poetry, essays, and autobiographical writing. With a distinctive voice and a love of language, it is unsurprising that she is currently quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as supporting evidence for 42 entries. These range from make-believe to maternal, poetess to privacy. She also appears several times in Oxford Essential Quotations, including the quotation above.

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Words that win spelling bees

Words that win spelling bees

So, you think you’re good at spelling do you? How would you fare with autochthonous, appoggiatura, Ursprache, serrefine, guerdon, Laodicean, stromuhr, cymotrichous, and guetapens? If you can successfully spell words like these, then maybe you should consider entering the annual Scripps Spelling Bee. From 27 to 29 May, 281 spellers from across the United States, […]

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