On the weekend

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

Yes-no questions in headlines

I recently came across a reference to Betteridge’s Law. Not having heard of this before, I looked it up on the web. As Wikipedia explains, Betteridge’s Law of Headlines says the following: ‘Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.’ Ian Betteridge, a technology journalist, explained that journalists…… Continue reading Yes-no questions in headlines

Brighthelmstone by the sea

We aren’t usually surprised if the spelling of a place name diverges from how we pronounce the name today. This often happens  because of major sound changes long ago. But I recently came across a spelling that shortened radically less than 200 years ago. The name of the southern English seaside town Brighton was still…… Continue reading Brighthelmstone by the sea

Odd gap in the English genitive

I recently saw a statement about ‘feedback on Jane and my visit to London’. The phrase ‘Jane and my visit’ seems ungrammatical to me. This post considers why. It looks at how to form genitives of nouns, co-ordinated noun phrases and personal pronouns. It then goes on to consider whether it is possible to form…… Continue reading Odd gap in the English genitive

Pāṇini and Panini

A great grammarian of Sanskrit, Pāṇini, lived sometime around the 6th to the 4th century BCE. Pāṇini is often considered to be the first great descriptive linguist. The name Pāṇini is not to be confused with name of the Italian sandwiches known as panini.  https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/06/paninis-apostrophes/ According to a comment made by a user on a…… Continue reading Pāṇini and Panini

Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt

An exhibition at the British Museum recounts how Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was first deciphered in the first 2 decades of the 19th century, using the Rosetta Stone and other inscriptions and texts.  Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt is on until 19 February. https://www.britishmuseum.org/exhibitions/hieroglyphs-unlocking-ancient-egypt       The rest of this post covers: ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and…… Continue reading Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt

Stressing Pelé

Since the Brazilian footballer Pelé died last month, we have been treated to many TV clips of this uniquely brilliant player. One thing that struck me is how British football commentators have changed the way they pronounce his name over the last 60 years. Change in stress pattern In commentary from the 1958, 1962 or…… Continue reading Stressing Pelé

Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic

For someone who knows some Russian, the 3rd person possessive adjectives in Croatian look odd.  But looking at it more closely, I’ve realised that their Russian counterparts are just as odd, though in a different way. Russian Table 1 shows some of the possessive adjectives in Russian. The adjective’s stem depends on the person (1st,…… Continue reading Some odd possessive adjectives in Slavonic

Digitising materials in the Indian language Oda

Here is a link to a documentary on a project to digitise 200 years of magazines, newspapers and books published in the Indian language Odia https://www.endangeredalphabets.com/2022/11/16/the-volunteer-odia-archivists/ The author of that page describes Oda has having a ‘delightful bald-headed script’. Odia was the 6th language to become designated as an official language in India https://languagemiscellany.com/2022/04/odia-a-classical-language-in-india/ 

Nice one, Cyril

Several Slavonic languages—Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Macedonian and Serbian—are written in the Cyrillic alphabet. That alphabet is also used for several other languages, for example in central Asia. The name Cyrillic honours the memory of St Cyril. Who was Cyril? St Cyril was born in Thessalonica (nowadays in Greece) in 826 CE, being given the…… Continue reading Nice one, Cyril