From the category archives:

linguistics and lexicography

  • Real Grammar Quiz, Question 3: Bored with it, or Bored of it?

    Posted by on November 19, 2014

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow.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 […]

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  • Agitate for a higher milk yield

    Posted by on November 11, 2014

    Today’s guest  authors are František Čermák and Věra Schmiedtová.  Professor Čermák is a former director of the Institute of the Czech National Corpus, Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University in Prague. He is a corpus linguist, general linguist and Czech linguist, with a particular interest in the lexicon and phraseology. Dr Schmiedtová is a corpus […]

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  • Overall, there’s nothing really wrong with it

    Posted by on November 10, 2014

    Some words may seem harmless but attract prolonged disapproval from critics. One such word is overall, in its use both as an adjective meaning ‘considering something as a whole, rather than its details or the different aspects of it’ (the overall result), and as an adverb – usually a sentence adverb – meaning ‘when everything […]

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  • Mildew all around me, and other mondegreens

    Posted by on October 27, 2014

    Misheard song lyrics have been in my head again. Kerry Maxwell’s BuzzWord article on creep as a combining form reminded me of the memorably rude example ‘I drove all night, crapped in your room’ – instead of crept. Then a Twitter friend mentioned ‘Poppadum Creek’, a surreal misanalysis of Madonna’s lyric ‘Papa Don’t Preach’, and […]

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  • Enthusing about freedom of usage

    Posted by on October 13, 2014

    Writing about back-formation earlier this year, I said that enthuse – a verb back-formed from enthusiasm – occupied a grey area of acceptability. This area is worth mapping in more detail, since much of what people say about enthuse applies to other words and usages, and offers insights into what Macmillan Dictionary calls real grammar. […]

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  • Spoken English in today’s Britain

    Posted by on October 01, 2014

    Today’s guest post comes from Tony McEnery, Professor of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University, and Robbie Love, Research Student at the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science at Lancaster University. ______________ Twenty years ago, a consortium of researchers from dictionary publishers, universities, and the British Library released the British National Corpus […]

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  • The wacky world of ‘wack’ and ‘whack’

    Posted by on September 29, 2014

    Imagine you’re involved in a project outdoors, busy doing your whack of the work, and suddenly you get a whack of a branch, or you whack your leg off a gate. That would be totally wack, right? Or is it whack? If the semantic tangle of these words leaves you feeling a little out of […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 27th September, 2014

    Posted by on September 27, 2014

    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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  • Keeping it real with Real Grammar

    Posted by on September 25, 2014

    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 […]

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  • Can you twig it?

    Posted by on September 15, 2014

    Given how close Ireland and Britain are geographically, standard English has surprisingly few words that originated in Irish (less surprising when politics and social history are taken into account). Examples include banshee, galore, shamrock, and perhaps smithereens. Informal English has a few more, one of which may be twig, meaning ‘realise’ or ‘understand’. But its […]

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