From the category archives:

global English

  • Open Dictionary Word of the Month: icy pole

    Posted by on July 13, 2015

    Following the integration of the Open Dictionary into Macmillan Dictionary earlier this year, we thought it was time to celebrate again the success of our crowdsourced dictionary. This series of posts will highlight the contribution made by our worldwide band of contributors by picking out some of the most interesting submissions made to the Open […]

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  • Dialects and dictionaries

    Posted by on June 02, 2015

    There is an old story about a sign on a level crossing (the place where a road crosses a railway line, known as a “grade crossing” in the U.S.). The sign was designed for the safety of car drivers, and it said: “Wait here while the red light flashes”. But it had to be replaced because […]

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  • Get your gas mask on – toot sweet! World War I, and its impact on English

    Posted by on July 28, 2014

    There’s a popular song from World War I about a soldier going off to the front. It starts with the lines: Brother Bertie went away To do his bit the other day (You can hear an original recording here.) “Doing your bit” – taking your fair share of a job that has to be done […]

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  • What goes in the dictionary when the dictionary is online?

    Posted by on July 15, 2014

    The familiar question of “how words get into the dictionary” is harder to answer when the dictionary is online. Printed dictionaries have limited space, so we have to be selective. This contributes to the popular view of lexicographers as “gatekeepers” – the people who decide, on behalf of the rest of the population, which words are […]

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  • Are you -ish, -ic, -ese or -ian? (Or none of these?)

    Posted by on April 09, 2014

    Most people in Spain are Spanish and speak Spanish. Most people in Italy are Italian and speak Italian. There are many countries that give their name, plus a suffix, to both a language, and an adjective for things from the country. Of course there are lots of languages without countries, and plenty of countries that […]

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  • 248 changes in Macmillan Dictionary’s new update

    Posted by on April 02, 2014

    After a hard day at work — so busy you had to have your lunch al desko — you’re home at last. Time to change into something comfortable (so, maybe not the spray-on jeans today) and settle down to chainwatch your latest box set — perhaps one of those scary Nordic noir thrillers. Well, you […]

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  • These three things

    Posted by on July 01, 2013

    For the past six months we’ve had the absolute pleasure of having Gill Francis as one of our regular contributors on the blog. Gill’s written some fantastic posts and asked some very poignant questions about language change in general and grammar in particular. Following in Gill’s footsteps is Jonathan Marks. We welcome Jonathan as our […]

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  • Stories behind Words: avoska

    Posted by on June 19, 2013

    Whenever I go out, I take an avoska with me, just in case I spot something I might want to buy. But first, a little background. Back in the days of the USSR, when Russia was one of fifteen Soviet Republics, there were frequent shortages of consumer goods. So when a particular item arrived in […]

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  • Colliding with common sense and usage

    Posted by on June 10, 2013

    Some prescriptive usage rules seem so arbitrary and unnecessary as to be made out of whole cloth. One such rule has to do with the word collide, meaning clash or crash into each other, and with related forms like colliding and collision. According to the rule, you can use these words only when both items […]

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  • Do grammar quizzes matter?

    Posted by on June 03, 2013

    The argument about teaching and testing grammar in schools seems to have mutated into an increasingly political media squabble about ‘correct grammar’. Michael’s critique of self-styled ‘crusading grammarian’ Mr Gwynne took me reluctantly to the ‘good grammar test’ featured in The Telegraph. (I scored less than full marks, I’m happy to say.) In the newspaper’s […]

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