The challenges of English pronunciation

A dear friend of mine who, like me, loves languages and words, recently sent me this poem. Apparently, if you can correctly pronounce every word in this, you will be speaking English better than 90% of the native English speakers in the world. (The tricky thing, of course, is knowing for certain that you are…

The Creation of Euro-English

OK, I know this story has done the rounds a few times already, but it still makes me smile: “The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded…

Bushisms

A couple of days ago I received an email that purported to contain a whole list of Bushisms – those sometimes bizarre, often incomprehensible, and frequently (unintentionally) funny things said by ex-President G W Bush. I was about to post the whole thing because it was really funny, when Richard asked me: “Are you quite…

What if…

An exquisitely beautiful “What if…” that quite takes my breath away: “What if you slept? And what if, in your sleep you dreamed? And what if, in your dream, you went to heaven and there plucked a strange and beautiful flower? And what if, when you awoke, you had the flower in your hand? Ah… what…

Words you may not find in the Oxford English Dictionary

A special edition dedicated to carat danglers, doggerels, and all the special people in our lives. beighborhood: n. Area populated by good-looking people. (“Let’s go downtown. Fifth Street has turned into a total beighbourhood.”) DIZO: n. Describes (busy, working, all-too-typical) couple: Dual Income, Zero Orgasm. Earnest Hemorrhage: n. A man who is oppressively forthcoming with every…

Creative new words formed by clever sparks

Here is the Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are the winners: Cashtration: The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of…

Learn new words – while feeding the world?

Do you know that a ‘pollex’ is your thumb, that a ‘dinkey’ is a small locomotive, that ‘stertor’ is another word for snoring, and that ‘oscitancy’ means yaaaaawning?  I sure didn’t. So let me tell you about a fun and addictive vocabulary learning game called Free Rice that seeks to feed the hungry masses. Affiliated to…