It has become a cliché to say that accounting is the language of business. That metaphor is helpful because it emphasises that accounting conveys vital information about business. But the metaphor can be unhelpful because, although accounting is a system for conveying information, accounting lacks most features of real human languages, such as Arabic, Chinese,…… Continue reading Accounting is not a language
How many nouns are there in Finnish? A paper by Fred Karlsson investigates that question. The paper also considers their sound structure. Karlsson used a machine-readable version of the Reverse Dictionary of Modern Standard Finnish (RDF, Suomen kielen käänteissanakirja). This lists 72,785 entries. Of those, 34,673 (47.6 %) have the code ‘S’, short for noun…… Continue reading How many nouns are there in Finnish?
I came across an on-line tool that generates lists of similar words (or phrases) and synonyms for 3 languages: Slovenian (SL), Croatian (HR) and Serbian (SR). Here’s how to use it: go to https://www.kontekst.io select the language you want. enter a word in the search box and hit enter (or select one of the small…… Continue reading Solvenian, Croatian and Serbian words in context
I went along yesterday to an event at University College London (UCL) called English Grammar Day. This was the first time I have been, though it has been held for the last 10 years. The event seems to be aimed mainly at school teachers and academics. I give below summaries of the 6 talks, which…… Continue reading English Grammar Day
I read today about someone ‘granting a request’. Although that common phrase is perfectly clear, it is unusually condensed. What is being granted? It isn’t really the request, it is the thing that was requested. This phrase is typical of something we often do with language: we shorten a common combination of words into a…… Continue reading Granting a request
On a recent flight, I was bemused by a sign on the overhead containers for carry on luggage. The sign advised caution in opening the ‘hatrack’, so that items wouldn’t fall down. I have never seen this word used before with this meaning. Maybe I have missed out on some new aviation jargon or maybe…… Continue reading A hatrack for your luggage
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
A recent study suggests that approximants—sounds such as /l/; /r/; /w/; and /y/—appear less often in swear words than they do in other words. The paper is The sound of swearing: Are there universal patterns in profanity?, by Shiri Lev-Ari and Ryan McKay (2022) published online in December 2022 by the experimental psychology journal Psychonomic…… Continue reading Do swear words contain some sounds more often?
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
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