There are many varieties of English pronunciation. The existence of different varieties has implications for English spelling. A paper by the retired phonetician John Wells discusses some of those implications. https://www.phon.ucl.ac.uk/home/wells/accents_spellingreform.htm One of those implications arises from the distinction between rhotic varieties and non-rhotic varieties. In the following positions, rhotic varieties pronounce the sound /r/…… Continue reading Learning by rote for non-rhotic speakers
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
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 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’
I entered my translation of this poem by the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841) for the 2022 Stephen Spender prize. Like all entries for this prize, it includes my commentary on the translation. From Goethe The hilltops sleepIn the dark of nightAnd fresh mist lies deepIn the valleys so quiet. From the leaves no rustle,From…… Continue reading Translating Lermontov’s translation of Goethe
Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries have both announced their word of the year for 2022 Oxford Word of the Year for 2022 The Oxford Word of the Year for 2022 is Goblin mode– a slang term, often used in the expressions in goblin mode or to go goblin mode. This term refers to ‘a type of…… Continue reading Oxbridge words of 2022
A reader wrote in to The Times complaining about one the newspaper’s word games. The game involves making as many English words as you can from a fixed set of letters. The reader complained that the permitted words did not include krill. In its weekly Feedback column on 19 November, The Times, reported the complaint.…… Continue reading Krill: only plural?