I caught this odd verbiage in a leader article in The Times last week (7 June 2020). It was commenting on the outcome of the vote by Conservative members of Parliament on a motion of no confidence in party leader (and Prime Minister), Boris Johnson. It said that the people supporting the motion were 148…… Continue reading Identity is not equivalence
Some commentators hate hearing people say that they ‘pre-booked’ something, for example, a taxi or a ticket. These commentators argue that the prefix pre- is redundant. In their view, the word book already necessarily includes the meaning that the action occurred in advance. Is the prefix pre- always redundant? I agree that the prefix is…… Continue reading Are all pre-bookings just bookings?
Over the last 10 years or so, I have seen more and more sentences starting with the phrase Similar to. These sentences often say something like: Similar to A, B does X. Here is a slightly abbreviated version of a recent example I saw in The Times [of London]. Similar to much of myalgic encephalomyelitis…… Continue reading ‘Similar to’ in starting a sentence
Several constructions in Italian use the verb fare (‘do’, ‘make’). Two of these constructions look very similar on the surface but syntactically they behave in very different ways. A short book Fare: Elementi di sintassi, by Nunzio La Fauci and Ignazio M Mirto (2003) analyses them. Here are 2 examples: (1) Adamo fa il medicoAdam…… Continue reading Doing work and playing roles in Italian
Japanese has several different words for giving and receiving. Which word is used depends on various factors: whether the giver is the speaker or is another personwhether the other person has higher status than the speakerwhether the speaker views the action as giving or as receiving In the rest of this post, I use speaker…… Continue reading Giving and receiving in Japanese
I have just started reading German and English Academic Usage and Academic Translation (2021), by Dirk Siepmann. This starts with an exercise of translating a short passage of German academic text. It is only one paragraph, though quite a long one: Seit Mitte der 1980er Jahre hat Michel Espagne sukzessive das Themenfeld des interkulturellen Transfers…… Continue reading German and English Academic Usage and academic translation
In the last few years, I’ve heard my daughter saying in restaurants things like: Can I get the pasta? That usage of get still sounds very odd to me. If I said that, I would mean: Can I bring the pasta to you? not Can I receive the pasta from you? Intending the latter meaning,…… Continue reading Can I get this change?
In cricketing circles, there has been a trend recently to using the term batter instead of the traditional term batsman. I often side with (bat for?) the dinosaurs on this sort of terminology question, but on this one I’m now batting for the innovators. Here’s why. In the past, when I heard someone talk about…… Continue reading Time for batters to join the bowlers and fielders
To my mind, ‘good to see you’ is something you say only to someone you already know. When meeting someone for the first time, ‘good to meet you’ feels more appropriate to me, perhaps because it puts more emphasis on the meeting. But increasingly people seem to be saying ‘good to see you’ even when…… Continue reading Good to see you—or is it?
Language is the least important casualty of our current political crisis, but it is a casualty nonetheless. In December, London’s Metropolitan Police foolishly suggested that their policy is not to routinely investigate ‘retrospective’ breaches of the law. I’m not qualified to discuss the legal, constitutional and ethical rights and wrongs of this notion. But linguistically…… Continue reading What are retrospective breaches?