Category Archive for: English language

Words used incorrectly in English that can make you look bad

Words used incorrectly in English can really make you look bad. While I like to think I know a little about business writing, I often fall into a few word traps. For example, “who” and “whom.” I rarely use “whom” when I should. Even when spell check suggests “whom,” I think it sounds pretentious. So…

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66 facts you may not know about the English language

The English language is, quite literally, the greatest language in the world. Great in terms of size – the current edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains 615,000 entries. Great in terms of scope — it’s an official language in seventy-nine countries and territories. And great in terms of, well, greatness — it’s just one fantastic mishmash of…

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How to develop better writing habits

There’s only one way to become a better writer, and that is through lots of practice. Some people are born with talent. Writing comes easily to them, but even the most talented writers have to work at the craft. After all, nobody’s born knowing how to write. Fostering good writing habits accomplishes two things. First,…

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A guide to Australian English, or Strine

Have you ever had trouble communicating with English speakers if you speak Australian English? I certainly have. I’ve had misunderstandings with British colleagues, confused my American neighbours and once listened to a Scottish man at a party for 10 minutes before identifying the language he was speaking as English. What’s perhaps unique about my situation…

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The English language is one big brand graveyard

Turns out, the English language is one big brand graveyard. We have a lot of words that were once trademarked brands. Aspirin. Cellophane. Escalator.  Yo Yo. Trampoline. Saran wrap. Yeah, Heroin was a brand. Like Nike. Or Aunt Jemima. “There used to be a branded form of morphine called heroin,” says Roger Schechter who teaches law at…

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28 genius depictions of words with no direct English translation

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But in this case, each image is worth just one. Designer Anjana Iyer seeks to explain untranslatable words from non-English languages, with the help of a some quirky imagery. The New Zealand-based artist’s series of illustrations, each of which is accompanied by a short explainer, effectively translates words…

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Learning language through nonsense | Japanese author of “Unusable English” speaks

Fantastic octopus wiring! My brother has been observing the slugs since he got divorced. Let’s start from where we left off yesterday. Get down on all fours. No, these aren’t the ramblings of a man with concussion; these are genuine excerpts from Twitter feed and study guide “Non-essential English Vocabulary: Words that will never come up…

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Mysterious 150-year-old writing in rare copy of Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ identified

An Italian computer engineer has solved a 150-year-old literary mystery found in a rare edition of Homer’s Odyssey at the University of Chicago Library. The case of the mystery marginalia began when the University received a donation of Homer’s works from collector M.C. Lang in 2007. The collection included a 1504 Venetian edition of the…

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Program helps Spanish-speaking parents learn English

Celia Casado wanted to be an involved parent. She wanted to help her kids with their homework. She had one problem. The mother of three didn’t speak English. That was last fall. Now, the Lawrence resident is able to practice sounds of English letters with her daughter. She can point out grammatical errors in her…

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7 expressions you might not know came from horse racing

As we head into the home stretch before this weekend’s 140th Kentucky Derby, sometimes called “the Greatest Two Minutes in Sports,” let’s take a look at some of the everyday expressions that have their origins in the sport of kings. Discover seven commonly used phrases you might not know came from the horse track. 1.…

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