language

Today’s Favourite Word: Emeute

There should be a word for thinking a word means something it doesn’t; for a long time I thought an emeute was a cudgel. It’s not, it’s an uprising. Although the word is French, it slipped into the English language because of WS Gilbert, who used it in the policemen’s chorus in ‘The Pirates of […]

The Fine Art of Swearing

Anyone who doubts the power of words should look at the history of swearing. For centuries in England (until my generation, in fact), the words ‘bloody’ and ‘bleeding’ were unforgivable. ‘Damn’ is harder still to understand until you realise that most swears came from religious roots. Blood was associated with the blood of Christ, damn […]

The Rich Tapestry Of English

My partner is a Kiwi, and although we share a common language, sometimes struggles with the confusing reference-laden complexity of ‘English’ English. The English language is meant to be flexible and absorbent, and contains more French, Latin and rhyming slang than one would imagine, but it’s also peppered with pop-culture shorthand. The latter sometimes enter […]

Learning The Lingo

I hope he was happy with the drawn part of the tattoo, at least. I know I’m going to turn into one of those old geezers who complain about language. I believe language should live, breathe and change, but this one’s really bugging me. ‘According to investigators, the mother purposefully drove her car off a […]