Tag: English in use

When it comes to Internet-related terms, it is often fashion that decides which words come in and out of use.

Surfing the Information Superhighway: the changing face of Internet language

It’s common to associate the Internet with all things modern and new, and so it’s perhaps unexpected that it can be considered to be nearly half a century old; the ‘symbolic birth date’ of the Internet has been declared 7 April 1969, the date of publication of the first RFC (Request for Comments) document. Much […]

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What's the difference between may or might?

May or might?

May or might? Both words are part of a special set of verbs known as modal auxiliary verbs, which means that they’re used together with other verbs to talk about permission, possibility, suggestions, etc.  Over the years, the usage recommendations regarding might and may have become more flexible, but there are still points which you should […]

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Bigger and stronger hearts: poetry and memory

Bigger and stronger hearts: poetry and memory

Oxford University Press is partnered with The Poetry Archive to support Poetry by Heart, a new national poetry competition in England which will see thousands of students aged 14 to 18 competing to become national champion for their skill in memorising and reciting poems by heart. OUP will provide free content from OED Online, the […]

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Rigger-jiggers, feathers, and crabs: the language of rowing

Rigger-jiggers, feathers, and crabs: the language of rowing

Rowing is a huge part of student life at the University of Oxford, underlined rather explicitly in this apt quotation which features in the entry for rowing in the Oxford English Dictionary: “Rowing was more than a sport at Oxford, it was a cult. It was ingrained in the university.” (1976 R. Massey When I was […]

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TS Eliot

A heap of broken images: the varied voices of T. S. Eliot

Today, September 26th, is the 124th anniversary of the birth of the poet, playwright, and critic T. S. Eliot. Apart from being one of the twentieth century’s most important writers, Eliot is, more importantly, one of my top-five favourite poets of all time. He is a poet of language, a poet of many voices, and today […]

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aight

Feelin’ “aight”?

In the early 90s hip-hop artist Doug E. Fresh released a single called “I-Ight (Alright)”. The song wasn’t what you’d call a smash hit, but I mention it today because the editors of the OED have just put its namesake aight into the dictionary. Looking at the entry, it seems that Mr. Fresh was a bit of a lexical trail-blazer in […]

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chocolate meaning

The meaning of ‘chocolate’ and other chocolate facts

You’re probably familiar with the many modern forms of choclate, but where did chocolate itself come from? Let’s have a look at that fact and others relating to the word ‘chocolate’, and how our favourite treat has contributed to the English language. 1. The meaning of ‘chocolate’ The English word ‘chocolate’ comes ultimately from the Nahuatl word chocolatl, […]

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Interesting language choices in The Hunger Games include the archaic sound of the phrase 'may the odds be ever in your favour'

The language of The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a trilogy of books set in a post-apocalyptic country in which the Capitol holds hegemony over the rest of the nation. Within that world, the Hunger Games are an annually-televised bloodbath in which 24 children from outside the Capitol fight to the death in penance for the rebellion […]

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