Much of the media narrative leading up to today's wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton has focused on Kate's "commoner" background, particularly her mother's family, hailing from the humble coal-mining country of northern England. In class-conscious British society, differences in social background come through in speech patterns -- as anyone who's seen "My Fair Lady" knows. So how have the royal family and the middle-class Middletons navigated this tricky linguistic terrain? Continue reading...
Topics: Language Words Usage

Blog Excerpts

Different From, Than, or To?

Stan Carey, one of our regular contributors, has a detailed post on his Sentence First blog about different from, than, and to. Though the than and to variants are often considered incorrect, Stan argues that these are simply dialectal differences. Read the whole thing here.
Topics: Blogs Usage Grammar
The prolific British language writer, David Crystal, has produced another winner: A Little Book of Language (now out in paperback), which Publishers Weekly calls "the perfect primer for anyone interested in the subject." In this excerpt, Crystal explains how language changes, from vocabulary to grammar. Continue reading...
Today is Earth Day, the annual celebration launched 41 years ago to raise environmental awareness. What better time to get up to speed with the latest in "green" lingo? Here are ten eco-friendly words that have gained prominence over the last few years. Continue reading...
The other night I was sitting next to an Austrian teacher of English at a restaurant in Brighton, in southern England. He was a bit puzzled by an item on the menu which offered "Pan roasted local skate wing, crushed ratte potatoes, sautéed spinach, caper, lemon & parsley butter." Continue reading...

Blog Excerpts

Macaroons, Macarons, and Macaroni

Ever wonder how the food terms macaroon, macaron and macaroni are related? It turns out that all three are "rooted in the great meetings of the Islamic and Christian culinary traditions in the Middle Ages." Read all about it on The Language of Food, Dan Jurafsky's wonderfully nuanced blog, here.

Dog EaredBooks we love

The Pun Also Rises

John Pollack makes a case for the cultural significance of the lowly pun in his new book, The Pun Also Rises: How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics. Pollack, a former presidential speechwriter, was also the winner of the 1995 O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, in Austin, Texas. In this excerpt, Pollack describes the first round of the competition. Continue reading...
Topics: Fun Language Words
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