I've been keeping lists of weird things about English for a while. And by keeping lists, I mean that I write down one thing I think of and tell myself I should look for similar irregularities and fill the list so I can blog about the topic, but I never do. So, I'm cleaning out … Continue reading Say What? Edition 9: A Motley Collection
Category: This is English
Musings on phrasal verbs, cliches, idioms, pronunciation, and everything else that makes English the beautiful mess that it is.
Say What? Edition 8: When Native Speakers Sound Like They Aren’t
My roommate my first year in Russia told me that English was an easy language to start speaking and make yourself decently understood but near impossible to master because of all the idioms, nuance, unexpected pronunciations, and multiple ways of saying everything. No matter how long you speak it, you're always going to encounter something … Continue reading Say What? Edition 8: When Native Speakers Sound Like They Aren’t
Say What? Edition 7: More Than Words
No, this post is not an ode to that old Extreme song, although it's still a great one! The post is a little bit about "code switching," I started hearing about everywhere a few years ago. Code switching refers to the verbal portion of the many personas we all have. The words we choose, the way … Continue reading Say What? Edition 7: More Than Words
Say What? Edition 6: Where Are All the Words?
Auxiliary verbs are falling out of favor. Particularly, to be. I've seen or heard all of the following lately: My car needs washed. My shoes need repaired. This couch needs gone this weekend. When did this form of speaking start? Does this sound normal to you? I'm itching to put to be in all of these sentences. And … Continue reading Say What? Edition 6: Where Are All the Words?
You’ve Got Skills
And so do I. Our skills aren't they same, but they are equally valuable. This is what I'd like people I work with to understand. Part of being a technical writer or editor means being invisible and vastly underappreciated. We don't get a byline or an author credit anywhere. People often toss our creations aside, … Continue reading You’ve Got Skills
Struggles of the Wannabe Grammar Police
On my neighborhood Nextdoor site, I recently saw a post about a lost dog that was found. In response, one person wrote, "Glad this tale/tail has a happy ending." I started to roll my eyes at her seemingly unnecessary decision to clarify that she was making a pun, but then I stopped. The truth is, I … Continue reading Struggles of the Wannabe Grammar Police
Say What? Edition 5: What Not To Say
Don't say donzerly. The Christmas season, which thankfully is over, always reminds me of my first neologism. While I never flubbed these lyrics from what is probably the most sung song in the country, I did spend a good portion of my childhood wondering what wilkenspire was, as in "Later on wilkenspire. As we dream by … Continue reading Say What? Edition 5: What Not To Say
Say What? Edition 4: Thoughts From Italy
A collection of random linguistically-related thoughts that popped into my head while in Italy four weeks ago. ******************** Language can provide anonymity in a crowd. One of my biggest linguistic pleasures when in Europe is hearing half a dozen languages spoken around me at any one time. I enjoy it partly because you feel a … Continue reading Say What? Edition 4: Thoughts From Italy
Say What? Edition 3: Thoughts From Switzerland
A collection of random, linguistically-related thoughts that popped into my head while in Switzerland five weeks ago. ******************** Going abroad makes you realize that your language skills aren't nearly as good as they should be. How did I used to be fluent in German but a few weeks ago I couldn't even understand what the Swiss … Continue reading Say What? Edition 3: Thoughts From Switzerland
But Is That Butts or Butts?
English has no shortage of homonyms that can easily cause confusion for someone trying to learn this language. But they can almost as easily cause confusion among native speakers as well. On our way into mountains last Sunday to hike Grays and Torreys peaks, my two girlfriends and I saw a sign on I-70 just … Continue reading But Is That Butts or Butts?