People are endlessly fascinated by words that are claimed to be untranslatable. A recent request by the American dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster led to many suggestions of words that are untranslatable. On 28 February 2023, the publisher tweeted a question: ‘Non-native English Speakers, what’s a word from your language that you think is perfect that doesn’t…… Continue reading Untranslatable words
Words to watch in 2023
Which words and phrases will enter wider circulation in 2023? This year’s edition of The Economist magazine’s annual publication The World in 2023 discusses, among many other interesting topics, the magazine’s ‘best 23 guesses’ for the terms that will become part of public discourse this year. I list the 23 terms below, with brief definitions,…… Continue reading Words to watch in 2023
Status of British Sign Language in Britain
A recent announcement by rail company led me to a bigger piece of news that I’d missed. Small news The UK train operator TransPennine Express announced in December 2022 that it would start providing departure boards in British Sign Language (BSL). TransPennine Express launches British Sign Language departure boards – Rail UK In that announcement…… Continue reading Status of British Sign Language in Britain
2,000 year old Sanskrit puzzle solved?
A PhD student may have found a way to simplify the analysis of Sanskrit grammar, overturning a time-honoured way of reading a classic grammatical description. In his PhD thesis, Dr Rishi Rajpopat (of St John’s College, Cambridge) analysed the oldest surviving descriptive grammar of any language. This is Pāṇini’s Aṣṭādhyāyī, a comprehensive grammar of Sanskrit,…… Continue reading 2,000 year old Sanskrit puzzle solved?
New spelling may rool OK?
Last month, the English Spelling Society provisionally endorsed a new spelling system which it hopes will ultimately eventually replace the highly irregular system used today in spelling English. The new system is called Traditional Spelling Revised (TSR for short). The Society believes that adopting TSR would help children and students to predict pronunciation from spelling,…… Continue reading New spelling may rool OK?
Oxbridge words of 2022
Oxford and Cambridge Dictionaries have both announced their word of the year for 2022 Oxford Word of the Year for 2022 The Oxford Word of the Year for 2022 is Goblin mode– a slang term, often used in the expressions in goblin mode or to go goblin mode. This term refers to ‘a type of…… Continue reading Oxbridge words of 2022
Goodbye Snowdon, hello Yr Wyddfa
The Snowdonia National Park Authority decided in November 2022 to use the Welsh names Yr Wyddfa (for the mountain Snowdon) and Eryri (for the region of Snowdonia). This will apply ‘in both Welsh and English contexts’. https://snowdonia.gov.wales/paper-on-place-names-principles-approved-in-order-to-safeguard-and-celebrate-welsh-place-names-within-the-national-park/ According to a press report, the Authority will: in Welsh correspondence, use only Welsh names; in English texts,…… Continue reading Goodbye Snowdon, hello Yr Wyddfa
You can vote for the Oxford Word of 2022
Oxford University Press is letting the public help decide on the Oxford Word of the Year for 2022. Oxford’s lexicographers are giving the public 3 candidates, defined at https://global.oup.com/news-items/homepage/vote?cc=gb&WT.ac=vote: metaverse n. A (hypothetical) virtual reality environment in which users interact with one another’s avatars and their surroundings in an immersive way, sometimes posited as…… Continue reading You can vote for the Oxford Word of 2022
Accents and Social Mobility in Britain
A recent report shows that accent bias still exists in the UK and is a barrier to social mobility. The report is Speaking Up: Accents and Social Mobility, issued by the Sutton Trust in November 2022. https://www.suttontrust.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Accents-and-social-mobility.pdf Accent bias is rating people less favourably just because they speak with an accent that is not ‘standard’…… Continue reading Accents and Social Mobility in Britain
Earliest known alphabetic script
A recently discovered inscription on an ivory comb is the earliest known example of alphabetic writing. The comb was found in Lachish (Israel) and bears an inscription in an early Canaanite script. The 17 letters, in early pictographic style, form seven words expressing a plea against lice. A report on this find is in A…… Continue reading Earliest known alphabetic script