The Riot of Spring: music and madness in the beau monde

The Riot of Spring: music and madness in the beau monde

On 27 May 1913, fashionable Paris was scandalized by the premiere of a new ballet. Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring, as it is usually known in English), with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky, depicted pagan ceremonies for the coming of spring, culminating in the sacrifice of a young […]

Do we need the apostrophe?

Do we need the apostrophe?

“The apostrophe is the most troublesome punctuation mark in English, and perhaps also the least useful. No other punctuation mark causes so much bewilderment, or is so often misused.” R.L. Trask, The Penguin Guide to Punctuation The recent decision by Devon County Council to drop the apostrophe from its road signs was met with dismay and anger […]

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alksjdf;lksfd: the language of Tumblr

alksjdf;lksfd: the language of Tumblr

In the world of social media, nothing remains static for too long. The same is true for language, so it’s not surprising that Internet language is ever evolving. In the case of the microblogging platform Tumblr, their community of users employs a special set of terminology to describe various actions and features on the site, […]

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The language and influences of the early Bob Dylan

The language and influences of the early Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, celebrates his 72nd birthday on 24 May 2013. The singer-songwriter, music producer, and writer has been one of the most influential figures in popular music and culture since the release of his first album in 1962. There is no systematic way of analysing Dylan’s song lyrics or poems; they […]

spanish internet

Spanish Internet terms – how to fill gaps in a language

Back when I was at school learning Standard Grade Spanish, the only computing word that we needed to know was ordenador, the word for the computer itself. While the Internet was becoming an increasingly useful adjunct to our lives, it was still something of a side issue, rather than the can’t-imagine-life-without-it behemoth that it is […]

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Which Winston? Confusable names in the OED

Which Winston? Confusable names in the OED

Thomas Hardy was born on 22 May 1804. “But wait,” I hear you cry, clutching the Dictionary of National Biography to your chest, fanning yourself down with a copy of The Mayor of Casterbridge, clasping an edition of – no, sorry, you’ve run out of hands – “Thomas Hardy was born on 2 June 1840, […]

Le Geek, C’est Chic

Le Geek, C'est Chic

The Glorious 25 May, in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, is a day for wearing lilacs to celebrate the People’s Revolution. The 25th is also Towel Day, commemorating the life and works of Douglas Adams, whose Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy celebrated the towel as ‘the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have’. Furthermore, the […]

Peppers, particles, pain, and the weird words that measure them

Peppers, particles, pain, and the weird words that measure them

For many people, the following two statements probably apply: 20 May is just another day, and You can’t remember the last time you took a moment to contemplate, gratefully, all the varying words that enable us, more-or-less concisely, to understand and efficiently communicate measurement. Yes, measurement. And although 20 May is in fact World Metrology […]

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