I was listening to a language learning CD the other day. After every passage, there were some exercises, preceded by the instruction ‘please answer the questions based on the text’. The intended meaning is: ‘please answer the question and base your answers on the text’. But read literally, it seems to be saying: please answer…… Continue reading Answer the questions based on the text
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
If you are comparing only 2 things, should you use the comparative (eg bigger) or the superlative (eg biggest)? Style guides tend to advise us to use the comparative. But I came across a case where the comparative could be ambiguous. Suppose you are writing about 3 brothers from the perspective of the youngest. You…… Continue reading An ambiguous older brother
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
Reports in today’s media give the impression that Cambridge University’s German department has just issued a diktat that students must, from now on, eliminate all gendered terms when they are speaking or writing German. The rather sensationalists reports accuse the department of jumping onto a woke bandwagon. As far as I can tell after some…… Continue reading Has Cambridge University’s German department driven off in a Wokeswagon?
The conjunction while can have 2 meanings: a temporal meaning, introducing a subordinate clause that refers to an action occurring at the same time as an action described by the main clause: They whistled while they worked.a concessive meaning, as a synonym for although: While they aren’t perfect, they are good enough. Avoid while for…… Continue reading Time to stop talking about the time
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
In the last couple of years I’ve started hearing the phrase “based off of” instead of the seemingly more logical “based on”. Perhaps this upstart conveys greater dynamism, like some kind of springboard. (I’ve only heard it from Americans.) I tried searching Google Ngram to see how long it has been around but Ngram didn’t…… Continue reading What is this, like, based on?
I recently saw an invitation to enter a competition until 15 July. This reminded me of an error that many German speakers make when they speak English. They often use use until when they mean by. German speakers make this error because German has one single preposition bis covering 2 different meanings that English expresses…… Continue reading Enter until 15 July
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