Did you know that Montenegro (tied with Serbia) is the world's third most recent sovereign nation? Montenegro split off by a referendum in which 55.5 percent of people voted for independence. The threshold to approve was 55 percent. As you might imagine, people still hold many strong feelings about this decision on both sides of … Continue reading Sixteen Things for Sixteen Years
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
I'm going to start this post by saying that I was blown away by all my tour guides' English abilities. Seriously blown away. As tour guides, I expected their English to be good, but they all had vocabularies far beyond what I expected. They understood everything I and the other guests asked, they understood all … Continue reading On the Eleventh Day of China: Who Speaks Chinglish?
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
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
The number one rule of being a writer is that you have to write. This is the same in any pursuit (say, dating). If you want to be good at it, you have to do it regularly. You need to write a lot of crappy words to come up with the good ones and you … Continue reading When A Writer Dates
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?
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
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?
I’m way ahead of the curve in my understanding of some language rules. I took a trip down memory lane last month when this incredibly complex language rule no one knows! became a national obsession for a few days. But I knew it! I was teaching it to my English language learners in Russia 14 … Continue reading Say What? Edition 1: Obscure Language Rules, Difficult Pronunciation, and a Collision of Language and Graphic Design