Think what you’re dealing with

Think what you’re dealing with. The majesty and grandeur of the English language, it’s the greatest possession we have.Professor Henry Higgins, in Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw I came across this quote in the Claire Foges article I discussed in Different accent or bad diction? – Language Miscellany The quoted passage contains an interesting example…… Continue reading Think what you’re dealing with

Saying how likely something is

IFRS standards use too many different terms to describe how likely it is that an event will occur. That is a clear conclusion of KASB Research Report No. 39 / AASB Research Report No. 2 Accounting Judgements on Terms of Likelihood in IFRS: Korea and Australia, issued in 2016 by the Korea Accounting Standards Board…… Continue reading Saying how likely something is

When is a continuous race not continuous?

The Catford Hill Climb is ‘the oldest continuously run bike race in the world’. This statement appeared recently in the Saturday Quiz in The Times. The adverbs continuously and continually are often confused, as are their related adjectives (continuous and continual). This confusion is often the subject of comment in style guides.   Background The…… Continue reading When is a continuous race not continuous?

Are all pre-bookings just bookings?

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?

The Pope is allergic to adjectives

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

‘Similar to’ in starting a sentence

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

Search and destroy

We’ve all had that feeling that we’ve gone too far with search-and-replace when editing a document quickly. A contributor to Language Log found a great example, blending overhastiness with naked defence of your own commercial interests. For the Nook edition of War and Peace, the sub-editor decided, quite understandably, that they shouldn’t plug Nook’s competitor,…… Continue reading Search and destroy