Journeying into gender with Words for Granted!

Hot on the heels on my previous podcast appearance, I joined Ray from the popular and long-running etymology podcast Words for Granted to talk about grammatical gender – what it is, why it exists, where it comes from and how English managed to completely lose it! You can listen to the episode in full here:Continue reading “Journeying into gender with Words for Granted!”

Talking etymology with the Lexis linguists!

Just a quick newsflash from me: Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of talking to Dan, Lisa and Jill, three of the team behind Lexis, a podcast about language and linguistics that’s primarily aimed at A-Level teachers and students, although its great content is accessible to all. We talked about etymology – whatContinue reading “Talking etymology with the Lexis linguists!”

An A-Z of the Languages and Loanwords of the English Lexicon – from Arabic to Zulu!

Reading time: 20-25 minutes Among language lovers and loathers alike, it’s well known that the modern lexicon of English is drawn from different sources. While a solid chunk of English vocabulary has a Germanic origin, much also comes from French, in a large part due to Duke William of Normandy and some battle that happenedContinue reading “An A-Z of the Languages and Loanwords of the English Lexicon – from Arabic to Zulu!”

A Dictionary of the Divine: The Gods and Goddesses Hiding in Our Words

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes Whether or not you’re a believer, it’s undeniable that the idea of the divine has had a big influence on human history. Connecting our lives and our earthly home to higher realms and to those realms’ inhabitants, the gods, is an ancient preoccupation, which is often reflected in ourContinue reading “A Dictionary of the Divine: The Gods and Goddesses Hiding in Our Words”

Of Mouses and Mans? — The Origins of English’s Vowel-Swapping Nouns and Verbs

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes In present-day English, the plural of mouse is usually mice, and one man plus another equals two men. While most English nouns are made plural simply by adding -s, making one cat into multiple cats, there is a sizeable minority that become plural through the process that we seeContinue reading “Of Mouses and Mans? — The Origins of English’s Vowel-Swapping Nouns and Verbs”

*ABA – The Goodest Language Universal

Reading time: 5 – 10 minutes For this month’s blog post, what I’d like to offer is a brief piece about a fascinating universal property of languages, which you may well have never noticed! This apparent language universal is all to do with adjectives, and the way they are built as words. In English, theContinue reading “*ABA – The Goodest Language Universal”

Cheat Your Way to Czech II: Learning (and Loving) the Lexicon

Reading time: 10 – 15 minutes For many people, myself definitely included, the most difficult part of learning a new language is the vocabulary. There’s just always so much of it and, unlike grammar, I find it hard to condense down into learnable bites. The world is full of things, so language is full ofContinue reading “Cheat Your Way to Czech II: Learning (and Loving) the Lexicon”

Rockin’ Around Etymology

Reading time: 10 minutes Ho ho ho! A joyful Yuletide to you, language lover! Now here’s something new for the blog: my offering for this December and for Christmas 2021 is an etymological round — a journey of linguistic connections that begins and starts with the same word. This is not my original idea, IContinue reading “Rockin’ Around Etymology”

You Know More Than You Think About: The Wanderer

Last month, I offered the Internet an article about the Old English poem Beowulf and how familiar, despite its antiquity, its language can become with a little linguistic guidance. I’d say the article and the idea behind it were received quite well – so, here we go again, with the same format and another OldContinue reading “You Know More Than You Think About: The Wanderer”

The High German Consonant Shift and How to Use It

If you already know English and are in the process of learning German, you may be struck by how similar words in the two languages can be. It can surprise novices that English sentences like ‘I have two cats and six books‘ or ‘it drinks water‘ are so close to their German counterparts ‘ich habeContinue reading “The High German Consonant Shift and How to Use It”