It was widely reported a couple of years ago that Pope Francis told the Vatican communications team not to use adjectives, saying: “I am allergic to those words.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/sep/24/pope-francis-criticises-overuse-of-adjectives Ironically, the Pope’s own words include an adjective: ‘allergic’. Such jarring clashes between advice and practice are common when people dispense gratuitous advice on writing. I…… Continue reading The Pope is allergic to adjectives
Does the verb be have the same function in the two phrases was born and was killed? I don’t thing so. I just tried writing the following sentence: He was born in 1898 and killed in action in 1918. To my ear, that sounds very odd. I think it needs to be He was born…… Continue reading Was born and was killed
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
In Mandarin, adjectives behave like verbs in some respects. As a result, some analysts suggest that adjectives are just a subset of verbs in Mandarin. This post summarises evidence that adjectives are in fact separate from verbs. The evidence comes from Chinese Syntax, by C-T James Huang, Y-H Audrey Li and Yafei Li (2009). The…… Continue reading Are Mandarin adjectives just a type of verb?
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?
If an idea isn’t really thought through and doesn’t make sense, we call it half-baked. So if an idea is completely half-baked, how baked is it? More than 50%? Less than 50%? Exactly 50%?
Today I worked through the last chapter (chapter 12) of Swedish in three months, covering: ‘either .. or’, ‘neither … nor’, ‘both … and”all and ‘whole’ the impersonal pronoun ‘man’ adjectives without a nounhow to translate some common English verbsspellingother words ‘either .. or’, ‘neither … nor’, ‘both … and’ Antingen … eller = either ……… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 38
Today I worked through chapter 11 of Swedish in three months, covering: transitive and intransitive verbscreating verbs from adjectivepast participle as adjective passiveother words Transitive and intransitive verbs Pairs of related transitive and intransitive verbs: Transitivebränna (2) (burn)dränka (2) (drown)röka (2) (smoke)väcka (2) (wake)lämna (1) (leave)kyla (2) (chilll)ställa (2) (put, stand)lägga (4) (put, lay) Intransitivebrinna (4)…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 35
Today I worked through chapter 9 of Swedish in three months, covering: indefinite and negative pronouns and adjectivesformation of adverbscomparative and superlativeinfinitive with and without attother words Indefinite and negative pronouns and adjectives The following are both pronouns and adjectives: någon (neuter: något, plural: några): something, someone, some, anything, anyone, anyingen (inget, inga): nothing, no-one, no…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 29
Today I worked through chapter 7 of Danish in three months, covering: possessive pronounsadjectives: comparative and superlativeimpersonal pronounother words Possessive pronouns min / mit / minedin / dit / dineDereshanshendesdensdets vor / vort / vorejeresDeresderesderesderesderes As in Swedish and Norwegian, the form sin / sint / sine is used in stead of hans / hendes /…… Continue reading Scandinavian language challenge day 22