Category Archives: English usage

Swearing – a sign of wit and intelligence?

It might seem counterintuitive but scientists have found that swearing fluency is actually a sign of more intelligence and greater vocabulary rather than less. As Richard Stevens, writing in The Conversation says: … swearing appears to be a feature of … Continue reading

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The joy of slang

Love it or loathe it, slang (or non-standard English) is all around us. Language purists try in vain to impose rules that would keep language constrained to what they would define as ‘proper’ usage but the joy of English (and … 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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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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