There is no right or wrong language

Stephen Fry loves language so much that he wants to wrestle it away from the control of the pedants who want to control it.

Favourite bit:

You slip into a suit for an interview, and you dress your language up too. You can wear what you like linguistically or sartorially when you are at home or with friends but most people accept the need to smarten up under some circumstances. It’s only considerate.

But please! People! For the love of God! Learn the difference between loose and lose!

All About English

Over lunch, Bob and I disagreed on several aspects of the English language and its origins.

According to Bob, English

  1. has fewer irregular verbs than ‘typical’ languages (and is generally more regular)
  2. is predominantly influenced by Latin and Greek

I disagree with both of those notions (English is more irregular and predominantly influenced by its Germanic roots) and am recording the disagreement here before we each run off to Wikipedia to find out the real story.

Effect this!

Affect or effect quiz?

Question

Your Answer

The Correct Answer

Your Response is:

Question 1 affect affect Correct
Question 2 effects effects Correct
Question 3 effect effect Correct
Question 4 affect affect Correct
Question 5 affect affect Correct
Question 6 effect effect Correct
Question 7 affected affected Correct
Question 8 effect effect Correct
Question 9 affect affect Correct
Question 10 effect effect Correct
Question 11 effect effect Correct
Question 12 effect effect Correct
Question 13 affected affected Correct
Question 14 effect effect Correct
Question 15 affect affect Correct
Question 16 effect effect Correct

Hey! No looking at my answers before you take the quiz!

Why? you may ask. Because Jazz’s teacher was feeling insecure about whether she had chosen the correct spelling on her report card (she had). I wanted to explain the difference or suggest a litmus test, but I couldn’t. Which made me feel insecure. But now I don’t 🙂

Why now? you may also ask. Because I just came across the words trivalent and ditransitive and they reminded me of my conversation with Jazz’s teacher. Hey! Do the quiz before you read my hints! D’oh! Too late!

Spoken like a Portuguese

I find the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis – the idea that thought is constrained by language – to be fascinating.

Here’s a variation on it from The Guardian

Take the Portuguese president of the European commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, for example. Barroso has an extraordinary knack: when he speaks English he not only talks but thinks like an Englishman; when he speaks French, he not only talks but thinks like a Frenchman. To hear him alternate from one to the other can be quite disconcerting, almost as if he’s switching between a left and right brain.