There are 9 posts.
Cupboard, fireplace, bookshelf. Just looking around the room in which I’m writing this, I can see plenty of objects that started life as separate words, then open compounds, and finished as closed compounds. That is, they once had a space between them and ended up without one. My point here is that new objects and […]more
When was the last time you heard someone being called a git, a moo or a ‘mare? You may have to cast your mind back. And I’d wager, you’ll remember that these gentle insults were uttered by someone from an older generation. They form part of a language phenomenon that receives criminally scant attention or […]more
Catherine Sangster, Oxford Dictionaries’ head of pronunciations, was interviewed by The Doctor for Epicurean Cure following her appearance at Nine Worlds 2016. This is the second part of an edited two-part version. The Doctor: So the point of Oxford Dictionaries is to reflect usage rather than prescribe it. What are your thoughts on institutions such […]more
Language use and notions of correctness have always been central matters for large sections of British society – especially those concerned with class, status, and education. Throughout its history, the BBC played a central role in disseminating what is considered ‘proper’ pronunciation. In its early days, the BBC was even meant to not only entertain […]more
People can go a bit funny when I tell them I edit dictionaries for a living. They get nervous and hesitant, as if they’re expecting me to leap on them at any moment, mock their use of grammar, laugh cruelly at their mispronunciations, and pour scorn on their woefully limited vocabulary. But nothing could be […]more
This past week saw a small explosion of anguished queries and dire proclamations in a number of newspaper headlines. “Is This the End of Proper Grammar?” asked the New York Times, and, not to be outdone, the Minnesota Daily trumpeted that the “AP Stylebook seeks to destroy the American way of life”. An article in […]more
A few years ago, I became unusually vocal over a particular bit of linguistic abuse. Unusually, because the lexicographical instinct is to be descriptive of language change at all times, and sanguine about those bugbears that others decry. But this particular trend had me sufficiently riled that I wrote an article entitled ‘The Adverb is […]more