Learning which preposition to use in a language, and in which context, often involves learning some general rules of thumb (which often differ greatly from language to language) and many detailed rules that typically seem arbitrary. For a small example of this, consider how you talk in English about what you did, will do, or…… Continue reading On the weekend
Tag: English: US
This morning, I heard a BBC reporter saying on Radio 4’s Today programme that: “Americans are now preparing for another error of divided government.” At first, I thought I understood what the reporter was saying. But then I remembered that some Americans pronounce era in the same way that British speakers pronounce error. The reporter—speaking…… Continue reading Another error
New spelling may rool OK?
Last month, the English Spelling Society provisionally endorsed a new spelling system which it hopes will ultimately eventually replace the highly irregular system used today in spelling English. The new system is called Traditional Spelling Revised (TSR for short). The Society believes that adopting TSR would help children and students to predict pronunciation from spelling,…… Continue reading New spelling may rool OK?
I recently came across a word that was new to me: contronym. A contronym is a word that is its own opposite. An often-given example is sanction. Sanctioning an action can mean either penalising it or permitting it. Some other examples are: WordOne meaningAnother meaningcleave clingsplitclipattachcut offdustremove dustadd a layer of dustapologystatement of regret for an…… Continue reading Contronyms
What is this, like, based on?
In the last couple of years I’ve started hearing the phrase “based off of” instead of the seemingly more logical “based on”. Perhaps this upstart conveys greater dynamism, like some kind of springboard. (I’ve only heard it from Americans.) I tried searching Google Ngram to see how long it has been around but Ngram didn’t…… Continue reading What is this, like, based on?
Main Street or High Street?
What do you call the principal shopping street in a town? I’ve always thought of the High Street as distinctively British but Main Street as distinctively American. There are, though, some Main Streets in parts of England. I recently came across some in the north of Nottinghamshire, for example in the villages or hamlets of…… Continue reading Main Street or High Street?
A new online craze called Wordle is in the news because of differences between American and British spelling. Players have to guess a 5 letter word. On each go, the player must enter a valid 5 letter word as a guess. The system then tells them how many: correct letters are in the right place.correct…… Continue reading Wordle
Short sitting for breakfast
In North American English, momentarily means in a short time, very soon. But in British English, it means for an infinitesimally short time. So going for breakfast in a Toronto hotel once, I was alarmed by a sign saying “we will seat you momentarily”.