Street names’ apostrophes

A mini-row has erupted for the umpteenth time about the removal of apostrophes from street names on English road signs. The latest belligerence revolves around St Marys Walk (a street formerly known as St. Mary’s Walk) in Harrogate. Harrogate is a spa town in Yorkshire. I would love to describe Harrogate as genteel. That word…… Continue reading Street names’ apostrophes

Mousemat with accented characters

One thing I find very useful is a mousemat with instructions for typing accented characters. I picked mine up around 5-10 years ago at Foyles bookshop in Charing Cross Road London. Here is a picture. Of course, it doesn’t cover everything, but it does show many characters needed for most western European languages. Painfully, I…… Continue reading Mousemat with accented characters

In defence of brackets (3)

Most writers don’t use brackets often enough. I’ve given before a couple of examples where using brackets makes a text clearer. Here’s another example. I recently read something saying in Coity, near Bridgend, where they lived until her death. This wording doesn’t make it clear enough that these people lived in Coity, not in Bridgend.…… Continue reading In defence of brackets (3)

A pause can change syntax and meaning

Trying to write something concisely, I came across a quirk of English. I ran into an example where inserting a pause changes both the syntax of a sentence and its meaning. Here’s the context. Sarah Wells married Joseph Randall, but Joseph died within a few years. After that, Sarah remarried. Her second husband was Louis…… Continue reading A pause can change syntax and meaning

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?

Cross-language blues’

I found this week an odd blend of English pronunciation and spelling with French pronunciation and spelling. Writing about last Saturday’s Football World Cup match between England and France, a journalist wrote the following:   Philippe Auclair, the French writer, calls him Les Bleus’ “beat-giver”. The Times, 12 December 2022(‘him’ refers to the French footballer…… Continue reading Cross-language blues’

Flushing out the Oxford comma to clear the NHS backlog

In early September this year, the new UK Prime Mister, Liz Truss (remember her?) appointed Conservative MP Thérèse Coffey as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Soon after, the press reported that Thérèse Coffey had sent staff in her new departmental fiefdom a strict manual on writing. I haven’t seen the writing manual…… Continue reading Flushing out the Oxford comma to clear the NHS backlog

Milkshake’s and apostrophes

Here’s another example of a sign that inserts an apostrophe in the plural of a word that doesn’t contain an apostrophe in standard English spelling. The word is milkshake’s, standardly written as milkshakes. I’ve written before about an intrusive (and normatively ‘incorrect’) apostrophe in the word milkshake. Panini’s apostrophes – Language Miscellany There, milkshake’s followed…… Continue reading Milkshake’s and apostrophes

Panini’s apostrophes

I have written before about what is sometimes called “grocer’s apostrophes” in English. https://languagemiscellany.com/2021/10/say-nein-to-anglo-saxon-punctuationHere is a good example I saw recently at a café in York. The apostrophe before the -s plural suffix on panini doesn’t surprise me. People often put in an apostrophe on a noun that is not a mainstream noun, for example…… Continue reading Panini’s apostrophes

Writing English to help second-language readers

I’ve spent much of the last 28 years writing or editing documents for a readership that includes many readers who didn’t learn English from birth. In this post, I give some tips on writing more clearly to help readers with English as a second language.  General advice on writing plain English is not enough to…… Continue reading Writing English to help second-language readers