The obscure word of the week is stonk

The first obscure word for 2018 is stonk, which is totally different in origin and meaning from the word stonkered. Even though it sounds like it shouldn’t be. ‘Stonk’ is a 1920s British military term for a sharp and fast artillery bombardment, according to the OED possibly derived from the term ‘Standard regimental concentration’. It was … More The obscure word of the week is stonk

Weighing in on the ancient ‘I before E except after C’ rule

Back when I was at school English spelling was simple: I had to come before E, except after C. It was an iron-clad rule. No kid or their neighbour deigned to seize the moment by disagreeing. The usual forfeit was swift reinforcement, either via some heinous and weird punishment, by seismic kick to the keister, … More Weighing in on the ancient ‘I before E except after C’ rule

Shakespeare – the amazing, fun and immortally rude bard

Years ago, my high school English teacher had a fantastic talent for rendering Shakespeare so painfully dull that we used to hang out for maths classes or death or a revolution or something. I’m not sure how he managed it, but he did. If the teacher had said: ‘Shakespeare’s stuff is filled with really, really … More Shakespeare – the amazing, fun and immortally rude bard

My hypothesis that English is a loose language

I’ve always thought English is a loose language. Take the words ‘theory’ and ‘hypothesis’, for instance. Even dictionary definitions sometimes mix their meanings up. Scientifically, the word ‘theory’ means a ‘hypothesis’ that has been established to be true by empirical data. Take Einstein’s two theories of relativity, Special (1906) and General (1917). We call them ‘theories’, by name, … More My hypothesis that English is a loose language

A bit of fun with Bram Stoker’s favourite word

I’ve often thought it kind of odd that vampires can only be killed by being staked through the heart. In Bram Stoker’s original 1897 novel Dracula, the eponymous vampire was actually slashed to – er – death with Bowie and Kukri knives. So much for Buffy’s “Mr Pointy”.  Which brings me to the (ahem) point … More A bit of fun with Bram Stoker’s favourite word