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”
This past week, presumably like most of the population of the UK, I’ve been thinking about snow.
Sitting with a friend, watching the white flakes whirl in the wind the other day prompted the inevitable conversation about whether the snow would…
And then we were stuck. What question were we trying to ask?
Continue reading “pitching & sticking”
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.
They definitely aren’t coelacanths.
And I’m fairly sure they have nothing to do with Clytemnestra.
Continue reading “word association”