Why ships are more than just steel and lists of statistics

There’s a vigorous naval enthusiast community out there. And it’s always intrigued me how often their discussions devolve to bitterly personalised argument, often infused with a kind of nationalist machismo in which paper statistics become weapons for invalidating the personal worth of the other party. Setting aside the point that this is basically dick-waving, using … More Why ships are more than just steel and lists of statistics

The obscure word of the week is stylometry

There are over a million words in English. Most of them are quite obscure and deserve better attention than they get. This week’s is stylometry. It’s the statistical analysis of literary style. It’s thanks to stylometry, for instance, that we know William Shakespeare’s plays weren’t written by him, but by another William Shakespeare who lived … More The obscure word of the week is stylometry

The obscure word of the week is umbriferous

There are over a million individual words in English. Most of them are quite obscure and deserve better attention than they get. This week’s is umbriferous. It means something that provides shade. Like a tree. Or an umbrella. Your challenge? Write a sentence (or two) in the comments using this word. Copyright © Matthew Wright … More The obscure word of the week is umbriferous

Stranger battleships than British ones, and other odd stuff

I posted a year or two back about some of the oddest British battleships ever built – engineering weirdness that always had a rational explanation but ended up creating some very strange and quirky vessels indeed. I was careful to specify ‘British’ because their oddities were actually quite sane by comparison with designs concocted by … More Stranger battleships than British ones, and other odd stuff

The obscure word of the week is mesial

One of the more obscure English words I’ve found is mesial – directed towards the body’s mid-line. There’s an old aphorism – “English doesn’t borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and goes through their pockets for loose grammar.” Too true. Your challenge? Use today’s obscure word in … More The obscure word of the week is mesial