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

How German speakers pronounce English  

Someone’s first language tends to cause consistent errors when they speak a second language. I’ve always found it interesting see what types of error people make in speaking (or writing) English they have learnt as a foreign language. Those errors can be useful pointers to the features of the speaker’s first language. Spotting those errors…… Continue reading How German speakers pronounce English  

Gorbachev or Gorbachov?

The surname of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (Михаил Горбачёв) was occasionally spelled Gorbachov in English, especially early in his leadership. It is a pity that this spelling didn’t persist. The spelling with <o> would show English speakers more clearly how to pronounce this name. Cyrillic spelling Gorbachev’s surname is spelled Горбачeв in the Russian…… Continue reading Gorbachev or Gorbachov?

Contronyms

I recently came across a word that was new to me: contronym. A contronym is a word that is its own opposite. An often-given example is sanction. Sanctioning an action can mean either penalising it or permitting it. Some other examples are: WordOne meaningAnother meaningcleave clingsplitclipattachcut offdustremove dustadd a layer of dustapologystatement of regret for an…… Continue reading Contronyms

Milkshake’s and apostrophes

Here’s another example of a sign that inserts an apostrophe in the plural of a word that doesn’t contain an apostrophe in standard English spelling. The word is milkshake’s, standardly written as milkshakes. I’ve written before about an intrusive (and normatively ‘incorrect’) apostrophe in the word milkshake. Panini’s apostrophes – Language Miscellany There, milkshake’s followed…… Continue reading Milkshake’s and apostrophes

French scribes with good intentions

I have picked up another interesting snippet from David Crystal’s book By Hook or by Crook: a journey in search of English (2007). English spelling does not match well with current pronunciation. As is well known, some such mismatches arose because English spelling began to stabilise before some major changes in the English sound system.…… Continue reading French scribes with good intentions

Romance languages: pronouncing C and G

Here is a tip to help you learn to pronounce the main national Romance languages more correctly. These Romance languages all pronounce the letters <c> and <g> in two different ways, depending on the vowel that follows them. In these languages, these letters are pronounced as [c] and [g] if they are followed by a…… Continue reading Romance languages: pronouncing C and G

Panini’s apostrophes

I have written before about what is sometimes called “grocer’s apostrophes” in English. https://languagemiscellany.com/2021/10/say-nein-to-anglo-saxon-punctuationHere is a good example I saw recently at a café in York. The apostrophe before the -s plural suffix on panini doesn’t surprise me. People often put in an apostrophe on a noun that is not a mainstream noun, for example…… Continue reading Panini’s apostrophes

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?

Prefix or preposition?

Some English native prefixes expressing location in time or space are of native origin. This post discusses whether those items are indeed prefixes or whether they are a separate base added in front of another base in forming a compound word. This post does not discuss prefixes of non-native origin. Native prefixes in English Bauer,…… Continue reading Prefix or preposition?