They say that language shapes our view of the world: if we use sexist and bigoted language, it is difficult to avoid becoming sexist bigots and if we don’t have the words for a concept, we find it hard to understand.
Certainly my own experience of learning a second language revealed a different personality: I was free to say things I could never have said in my native English because the words and the grammar permitted it and because I came fresh to the new language with the opinions and ideas of an adult but with no personal attachment or aversion to the words. Continue reading “the words we use”
I have occasionally wondered why children seem to instinctively draw the sun as a yellow circle with straight lines radiating from it, but looking at the glorious sunrise in the photo above, it certainly makes some sense.
Yes, I know: I overuse the words glory and glorious, but surely it’s justified here?
That can no doubt be seen as a purely subjective opinion but, when referring to the next picture, which I personally consider rather less impressive, I gather glory would be the technically correct term: Continue reading “glory all around”
I first came across the word “palimpsest” years ago, when I was training to teach English as a foreign language: in one of the classes we were given a list of words that we were not expected to know and asked to chat with a partner and guess their meanings.
Presumably, the idea was to simulate the stress suffered by the students we would encounter once we qualified, but, of course, our situation was vastly different as we were all native speakers and there was really no great pressure to get the answers right, anyway. Continue reading “roost, rooster, roostest”
Memory is an odd thing. And linguistic memory is perhaps as odd as any.
I know I should remember the name of the flowers in the photo as I’ve grown plenty over the years, but every time I see them I have to sort through and reject a few other words that come to mind first.
Well, not really in a pickle, as the spices in the picture are not yet even tied up in muslin. And, anyway, they were to be used to make chutney.
Which leads me on to wonder what the difference between chutney and pickle actually is. The top results in Google don’t help much; I think they are biased towards the States, where things like gherkins, which are preserved without cooking, are classed as pickles, while vegetables and fruits cooked in vinegar with spices are called chutney or relish. Continue reading “in a pickle”
Although most people agree that autumn starts with the equinox, which doesn’t fall for another week, it seems that Christmas is already looming, with cards on sale in the shops, and gift catalogues dropping through the letterbox. I never sign up for printed catalogues, but they arrive unsolicited, and offer temptations in the form of all sorts of trinkets and knick-knacks I never knew I needed.
Of course, once you start to buy gifts, some sort of wrapping is required. The latest catalogue offered this interesting set of gift bags:
It’s not a charity I had ever thought of supporting, but if I had more time, I might be tempted to offer my proof-reading skills at a reduced rate. Continue reading “forbidden favourites”