Author Archives: Sue

The Atlas of True Names: making the familiar seem strange

Did you know that Great Britain can also be called ‘Great Land of The Tattooed’? Not because of the popularity of tattoos in this country. Rather, it’s the name you arrive at if you look deeper into the etymology of … Continue reading

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We need to close the compound noun gap…

The English language comprises hundreds of thousands of words and is rich in phrases, idioms and other word combinations. And yet, sometimes even English struggles to convey exactly what you mean, despite numerous ‘borrowings’ of words from other languages. Dinosaur … Continue reading

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Sorry seems to be the hardest word: or, the art of the non-apology

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” ― Benjamin Franklin “Never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.” ― John Wayne Every once in a while, people in public life have to apologise for something they’ve said or done. While … Continue reading

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Rapping the alphabet Bajan-style

The internet truly is full of wonders -you never know what little gems you are going to find. While visiting the Facebook page Totally Barbados recently, I came across this great video clip of a Rastafarian who clearly loves the … Continue reading

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Using words to paint pictures…

I love words. And I love certain typefaces (particularly Johnston sans – the font used by Transport for London), although I hate others (I’m looking at you, comic sans). I also really like the combination of words and fonts, as … Continue reading

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Strewth: a treasure trove of Aussie lingo

I recently came across a wonderful treasure trove of YouTube video clips on the Australian Geographic website. They feature an Aussie bloke called Frank Povah talking about Aussie English – anything from Sheila to bung, chook, and furphy. Anyone with … Continue reading

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Which hurts the most – sticks and stones or words?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” runs the old playground chant. Children quickly learn that this is not true. Names (or words) can really hurt and cause psychological damage beyond the mere scratches … Continue reading

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The politics of grammar

By describing himself as a grammar fascist recently, the British Conservative MP Alan Duncan may have had his tongue firmly in his cheek but it’s striking how people who get worked up over English usage, grammar, style, and punctuation will often … Continue reading

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The joy of parentheses (in song titles)

Punctuation, or rather bad punctuation, is something that many people get peevish about. For some it’s the so-called grocer’s apostrophe, for others it’s commas, or the overuse of exclamation marks. The use and misuse of parentheses (or brackets, as we … Continue reading

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Less ‘wonga’, more sense

I don’t hate many things but I’m beginning to loathe the word ‘wonga’. It’s everywhere, thanks largely to the ubiquitous and nauseating wonga.com commercials, in which a trio of geriatric rubber puppets induce people to take out dubious pay-day loans … Continue reading

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