What is the plural of Whalebelly?

I was recently writing for my family history blog Birds of Cressingham a piece about a family with the unusual name Whalebelly. Jonas Whalebelly – Birds of Cressingham (wordpress.com) I started wondering what I would write if I were talking about 2 (or more) people with that name. Should I write Whalebellies or Whalebellys? English…… Continue reading What is the plural of Whalebelly?

Who Put the ‘a’ in ‘Thomas a Becket’?

At primary school, I learned that 4 knights murdered Archbishop Thomas á Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Famously, the murderers had supposedly heard English king Henry II saying ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent priest’. It wasn’t clear whether Henry was asking the knights to kill Thomas, or whether he was just venting…… Continue reading Who Put the ‘a’ in ‘Thomas a Becket’?

Similarities and differences within Scandinavian languages

The Scandinavian languages are similar to each other, but also differ from each other. Here is an example that illustrates nicely some of the similarities and differences. I came across it in The Syntax of Icelandic, Höskuldur Thráinson (2007). Although Höskuldur Thráinson uses the example to make one specific point about word order, I use…… Continue reading Similarities and differences within Scandinavian languages

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

Cross-language blues’

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’

Too much of a good thing? Ask Hirokazu Tanaka

The largest gathering of people with the same first and last name occurred in Tokyo on 29 October 2022. Present were 178 people called Hirokazu Tanaka. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-same-first-and-last-name-gathering According to the Japan Times, the previous record was set in 2005 by American business person Martha Stewart and 163 other people of that name. The Japan Times…… Continue reading Too much of a good thing? Ask Hirokazu Tanaka

Collins words of 2022

Collins Dictionary has selected permacrisis as Collins Word of the Year 2022 (for English). Collins defines it as ‘an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events’. This is one of 10 words Collins highlights. They all relate to continuing crises faced by the UK and the world.…… Continue reading Collins words of 2022

Král Karel

In a recent article on The Conversation, Neil Bermel, professor of Russian and Slavonic Studies at the University of Sheffield, explained how some European languages will refer to King Charles III: in Czech, although he was almost always called princ Charles before ascending to the throne and occasionally král Charles is in use, he is…… Continue reading Král Karel