English is Hard, But Can Be Understood Through Tough Thorough Thought Though

Although English is not the hardest language to master (see this post for ten languages that are even harder), it frequently presents problems, even for its native speakers. Consider the problem with writing the sentence, "I never said she stole my money." What meaning are you attempting to convey? There are seven different meanings the... Continue Reading →

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Hodgepodge of Hippopotomonstrosesquipidelian Homeruns

If you are a lover of obnoxiously-long words, you already know the definition of hippopotomonstrosesquipidelian is "of or pertaining to extremely long words." Perhaps you already know these English language monstrosities that probably won't show up in a crossword puzzle any time soon: honorificabilitudinitatibus (27 letters): The longest word used by William Shakespeare, as well... Continue Reading →

Don’t Try to Pronounce It If You Are Wearing False Teeth

The 85-characters long Maori name for a hill in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, is the longest place name found in any English speaking country. It is, Taumatawhakatangihangaoauauotameteaturipukakapikimaungah-oronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, which roughly translates as, “the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as the land-eater, played his nose flute... Continue Reading →

Don’t Be a Writer If You Can’t Handle Rejection Letters

"Curse the blasted, jelly-boned swines, the slimy, the belly-wriggling invertebrates, the miserable soddingrotters, the flaming sods, the sniveling, dribbling, dithering, palsied, pulse-less lot that make up England today. They've got white of egg in their veins, and their spunk is that watery it's a marvel they can breed." -- English author D.H. Lawrence, in a... Continue Reading →

If Only There Were A Backspace Button for Speech

When Crown Princess (later Queen) Louise of Sweden visited Uppsala Cathedral, the Archbishop conducted the tour in English. His use of the language was good, but he got tripped up at a very inconvenient time. As they approached a chest of drawers holding priceless items, the Archbishop said, "I will now open these trousers and... Continue Reading →

One Little Letter Makes All the Difference

Japanese speakers frequently have difficulty differentiating between the English letters "L" and "R". This was particularly evident in 1950 when supporters of General Douglas MacArthur (then serving as military governor of Japan during the post-war occupation) tried to encourage him to run in the next US Presidential election. While the general undoubtedly appreciated the vote... Continue Reading →

No Awards for Presidential Grammar

H.L. Mencken did not hide his dislike of President Warren G. Harding. He was especially loathful of Harding's mangling of the English language and called such utterings "Gamalielese", in honor of the President's middle name, Gamaliel. Expressing his frustration in The Baltimore Sun on March 7, 1921, Mencken let loose: “He writes the worst English... Continue Reading →

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