From judicial decisions to judicious decisions?

The House of Commons discussed yesterday a government proposal that would allow the UK government to ignore some injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Reportedly, Minister Robert Jenrick said the government would use this power only ‘highly judiciously’. His choice of the word judiciously is interesting. The judges sitting in the ECHR…… Continue reading From judicial decisions to judicious decisions?

Obstructing vision with a transparent adverb

One of life’s great mysteries is the offside law in football. It causes a lot of discussion and controversy among football fans and commentators, as well as among players and managers. A comment on a recent controversial decision about offside made me look at the wording of the offside law. I discovered a surprising (and,…… Continue reading Obstructing vision with a transparent adverb

Another error in spaceflight

‘This is another error in spaceflight’. This is what I heard a NASA Planetary Scientist saying on the radio one morning recently. She was talking about the previous day’s unexpectedly short maiden flight by SpaceX’s new rocket Starship.   The rocket exploded just a few minutes into the flight, so ‘error’ might seem like the…… Continue reading Another error in spaceflight

Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian

Here is a summary of some things I learnt about the Mainland Scandinavian languages (Danish, Swedish and Norwegian) a couple of years ago, when I was carrying out a self-imposed language challenge.   I am commenting here only on those 3 languages, not their relatives, the insular Scandinavian Languages (Icelandic and Faroese). For an…… Continue reading Language sketch: Danish, Swedish and Norwegian

We apologise for any inconvenience

It is a depressingly common experience. You are waiting for a train and an announcement tells you that your train is late. The announcement invariably ends ‘We apologise for any inconvenience.’ Why do announcers always include the minimising word ‘any’?   Including ‘any’ signals that the announcer (or rather the organisation they represent) doubts whether…… Continue reading We apologise for any inconvenience

Albert Grammar Zone

Seeing this advert in the window of an estate agent in Auckland excited me unreasonably. Is there really a grammar zone in that city? What does it mean? Is some minimum level of grammar a prerequisite for living there? Is bad grammar illegal? Do they tolerate rhetorical questions? The reality is more prosaic, as I…… Continue reading Albert Grammar Zone

Answer to a puzzle

Here is the answer to the puzzle I posted a couple of weeks ago. Puzzle [A man] had sent home a letter simply addressed: WOOD JOHN ENGLAND and it was safely delivered. Those Post Office people are very smart. Can any of you read that address in its completeness? Answer The letter was intended for…… Continue reading Answer to a puzzle

Language sketch: Maori (1)—sounds

Maori is the language of the Māori people of New Zealand. It is known in Maori as te reo Māori (‘the language Maori’) or simply te reo (‘the language’) for short. Te reo Māori was made an official language in New Zealand in 1987, along with New Zealand Sign Language. There is a useful short…… Continue reading Language sketch: Maori (1)—sounds