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  • Gwyneth Fox remembered

    Posted by on March 04, 2015

    Gwyneth Fox talking to teachers about MEDSad news for all of us who have worked on the Macmillan Dictionary: our former colleague Gwyneth Fox has died after a short illness. Gwyneth’s sudden death came as a tremendous shock to everyone who knew her. She had been retired for only five years and seemed to be full of energy and in excellent health.

    Gwyneth joined the Macmillan team at the end of the 1990s, at an early stage in the dictionary’s development. Formerly a senior editor, then editorial director, at the Cobuild dictionary, and an early convert to corpus-based lexicography, Gwyneth brought with her not only her experience in dictionary-making, but an impressive background in teaching English, teaching teachers, and lecturing in linguistics. All of which proved to be invaluable assets as we developed the new dictionary together – and even more so after the Macmillan Dictionary was first published in 2002. At that point Gwyneth embarked on a programme of travel aimed at introducing the new dictionary to the widest possible audience. She worked phenomenally hard, making countless visits to schools and universities, talking to teachers and dictionary-users, and giving well-received presentations in bookshops and at conferences all over the world. Her remarkable ability to connect with teachers and students everywhere was critically important in helping us to put the Macmillan Dictionary on the map. And despite her astonishing work-rate – reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s never-ending tour – she never lost her enthusiasm and energy.

    Gwyneth approached retirement with the same zest and energy she had shown throughout her career. Having entirely turned her back on work, she proceeded to fill her life with the things she enjoyed. Travel continued to figure prominently, and she undertook many adventurous trips to places she had always wanted to visit. Music, theatre, dance and the visual arts played a huge part in her life, with regular outings in Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon, London and further afield; trips abroad were often timed to coincide with a performance she particularly wanted to see at the local opera house. She was an enthusiastic follower of sport, whether it was her beloved Scotland rugby team, tennis or golf. She read constantly and widely, gardened, walked, and enjoyed good food, good wine and the company of friends old and new.

    Life wasn’t a ceaseless round of pleasure, though. Always eager to help those less fortunate than herself, Gwyneth volunteered regularly at a food bank on the outskirts of Birmingham. She was an active member of her local Labour party; visited a local primary school weekly to read with children who were struggling with learning to read; and befriended lonely elderly people through a scheme run by the RVS.

    Her greatest joy, however, was her family. She took enormous pleasure and pride in her three daughters and delighted in spending time with them and their families, including her two young grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by very many people.

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  • On behalf of this fossilised phrase

    We often refer to something being done on behalf of someone, but the word behalf appears only in this set phrase and variations on it. In other words it’s not linguistically productive, so it can be described as a fossil. But what is a behalf, and where does it come from? On someone’s behalf, etymologically […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 27th February, 2015

    This post contains a selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular. Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link […]

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  • Language tip of the week: football

    In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, usage, etc. This week’s language tip helps with the differences in how people use the word football in American and […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 21st February, 2015

    This post contains a selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular. Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link […]

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  • Language tip of the week: power

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  • And the winners are…

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  • Real Grammar Quiz, Question 6: Is it OK to use “they” when referring to a singular person?

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you blog posts and videos that give evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions about grammar and […]

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  • Numb-headed numbnuts, ninnies and Numskulls

    Macmillan’s crowd-sourced Open Dictionary is a great place to keep an eye on new words and niche vocabulary. It has a marvellous variety of novel phrases, slang, specialist terms, vogue words, regionalisms and other items not used often enough or widely enough to be considered core vocabulary – though any that shift towards mainstream use […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 14th February, 2015

    This post contains a selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular. Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link […]

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  • Unlucky for some?

    Do you walk round ladders rather than under them? touch wood to ward off bad luck? throw salt over your shoulder if you spill some? feel that you will have a good or bad day because a black cat crosses your path? If the answer to any of these questions is yes then you’re probably […]

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    In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, usage, etc. This week’s language tip helps with the differences in how people use the word class in American and […]

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  • Describing relationships with the love-thermometer

    In our daily #guesstheword challenge on Facebook and Twitter, we post a definition and ask people to guess the word or phrase we’re looking for. Last week, we asked our audience to match the word to this definition: “to love someone very much, often so much that you do not notice their faults” It’s a […]

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  • Posted by Scott to Where do a small number of you come from? on March 01, 2015 For a while my IP address was coming from a ghost town also, Cabell City in the Eastern Part of Oregon. http://pnwphotoblog.com/ghost-town-of-cabell-city-oregon/ Which is weird, as that town didn't ever have phone service. I'm not even sure it had electricity outside of an onsite generator! And even weirder, as I lived nearly 100 miles away!

  • Posted by Andrea to Accidental drifting – small talk in the UK on February 28, 2015 This feels so inverted. I have, on several occasions, said stuff to people standing near me that probably qualifies as UK-style small-talk (commenting on situations, making observations) without first introducing myself, and fellow Americans just look at me like "Who are you and why are you talking to me?" Go figure.

  • Posted by Saskia to Describing relationships with the love-thermometer on February 26, 2015 Thanks for your feedback, Jason. Doing them per level is a good idea and one that we'll look into. Meanwhile, keep an eye on this blog and www.macmillandictionary.com ... more infographics coming soon!

  • Posted by Michael Rundell to Real Grammar Quiz, Question 6: Is it OK to use "they" when referring to a singular person? on February 24, 2015 Thanks Jonathan: stalking people with a microphone may be a bit extreme, but it has been proven that there is often a difference between what people *think* they say and what they actually do say when they're not thinking about it. On your second point: the use of "they" feels more natural in relation to indefinite pronouns (like someone, anyone) than when the antecedent is a singular noun (like your example of "winner"). So, like most...

  • Posted by Jason to Describing relationships with the love-thermometer on February 22, 2015 I love this infographics. I think it'd be even better if you could create one according to different levels - A1/B1/C1. That would be very useful! This is the first time I've heard "have a nodding acquaintance with someone"!