greetings & valedictions

Years ago, I learned to type. As in, I learned to use a typewriter. And I learned the correct lay out for business correspondence, with the sender’s address at the top right, followed by the date and then the recipient’s name and address on the left.

Whoever the letter was going to, it always started with Dear, then a phrase with reference or topic, if required, centred above the body of the letter.
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pause for pedantry

Often, as I surf the internet, I find phrases, badly cropped headlines, verbal ambiguities, and punctuation failures that bring me up short and make me pause. When this happens, I tend to take a screenshot of the offending – or amusing – text and store it off to one side.

The intention is then to write about it on the blog, but sometimes I completely forget. Which is why the images in this post are from a whole range of contexts. While some of them are not particularly recent, I think they are probably still worth commenting on.
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trains, travel & terminology

Many years ago I had a colleague who told me that she was concerned about her daughter’s English, as the family didn’t speak English at home. Without a second thought, I told her she should encourage the girl to read.

I didn’t think it mattered whether she was reading Jane Austen, Dickens, Woman’s Weekly, or simply the next Mills and Boone bodice ripper: my idea was that she’d learn grammar and assimilate new vocabulary from seeing language in context.
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enough said

Somewhere, during the last couple of weeks, I saw or heard the word “ample” and it stuck in my mind.

It’s not what I’d call an uncommon word; in fact, I’m sure I used to use it and come across it relatively frequently. But, try as I might, I really couldn’t remember when I last had occasion to describe something as ample.

I spent about a quarter of a century living in Spain, not among ex-pats, but among Spanish speakers. So I was mostly either speaking in Spanish, or speaking to non-native speakers. Continue reading “enough said”

all manner of things

As so often is the case, when I started to think about what to write about in today’s blog post, I came up a complete blank. My mind was about as empty of ideas as the milk bottles on the doorstep in the top picture are of milk.

And now I have that image there, I shall pause on the threshold to contemplate the joys of the English language, which allows us to differentiate so clearly between a milk bottle and a bottle of milk. The distinction could be made, of course, by using prepositions – “a bottle for” rather than “a bottle of” – but I think the way we do it is better.
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