Tag Archives: english


As I walked through the churchyard this morning, I passed by a teenager on her mobile. As I did so, I couldn’t help overhearing the following gem:

“You made me run, with my legs up a hill”.

I wondered idly to myself, “how else would one run, other than by using one’s legs?”

A Couple Things

On Monday, I read a post in which the words “a couple things” appeared several times. The post was well written and I agreed with many of the points made by it’s author. However those few words “a couple things” set my teeth on edge. Surely the correct way to demonstrate that one is speaking of several things as opposed to a single object is to say “a couple of things” rather than “a couple things”? Apart from “a couple things” being grammatically incorrect, it strikes me as being somewhat lazy to omit one word “of” when writing “a couple things”. The amount of time saved by not including “of” is, surely so insignificant as to be unworthy of the effort entailed in so doing?

I have also seen the words “couple things” rendered with both the “a” and the “of” omitted. I struggle to understand why literate individuals would indulge in such lazy behaviour, but perhaps I am being unreasonable in my criticism?

I have no wish to single out either the individual or the article in question, hence no link is provided. I have, however come across the following discussion concerning “couple things”, https://painintheenglish.com/case/267/), in which some adhere to my view while others disagree. As always I would welcome my reader’s views.


Wha Fe Call I’ – Valerie Bloom

Thank you to Jayne King for drawing my attention to the poem, “Wha Fe Call I’” By Valerie Bloom. The poem examines the oddities of that wonderful language, English, (http://betweenthelines.darkbb.com/t334-wha-fe-call-i-valerie-bloom).

Can Google Translate Understand A Liverpool Accent?

Having been born and raised in Liverpool, I was interested and amused to read an article entitled, “Can Google Translate Understand A Liverpool Accent” (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/01/can-google-translate-understand-a-liverpool-accent). The experience of the Guardian columnist suggests that Google can not interpret Scouse (the unique Liverpool Dialect) employed by some Scousers. I must confess that I was unfamiliar with a number of the Scouse words, for example “jegging” (listening in to someone else’s conversation), consequently my understanding of my native city has been enhance by the above article.


With Respect …

In my experience the 3 little words “I’m not being … ”, (insert the relevant missing word of your choice) are often the precursor for an insult or other offensive comment.

  1. “I’m not being rude, but …”. Meaning – I am going to say something insulting. I am, however going to deny my intention to be rude.
  2. “With respect…”. Meaning – I have no respect for you or the ideas you are expressing. I am, however going to use those words as a figleaf to hide the fact I’m insulting you.
  3. “I’m not racist but …”. Meaning – I hold highly reprehensible views on race. I am, in fact a racist bigot.
  4. “Some of my best friends are …”. Meaning – I don’t like this particular group of people, however I hope to disguise this fact by using the forgoing words.
  5. “Its not you, its me …”. Meaning – It is (in my opinion) entirely down to you that this relationship (insert relevant example) isn’t working. I am, however going to let you down gently by pretending that it is all my fault.

Shakespeare’s words, “One may smile and be a villain” spring to mind.


Shed A Tear For The OED

As a child (a precocious one at that) I owned a Braille edition of The Little Oxford Dictionary of Current English which ran to some 16 volumes in Braille. As a small boy I recall having the idea that one could assemble a library encompassing all the knowledge available. I possessed a vague idea that The Little Oxford only contained a tiny portion of that knowledge but, somehow I believed it was possible for me to know, at the very least, a little about everything.

I know longer cherish the erroneous view that one can ever comprehend all there is to no on a single subject let alone on the ever expanding knowledge base which exists out there. Despite the fact we can never know everything I felt a sense of regret when I read that the next edition of The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) may well only appear online due to the sheer vastness of the project and the prohibitive cost (for many) of £750) of purchasing the print edition. The ever evolving nature of language is, no doubt better suited to an online work of reference hcapable of being easily updated, rather than the many paper volumes which will be out of date as soon as they leave the printing press. None the less I feel a sense of regret at the passing of the OED in it’s traditional printed form. There is something reassuring about holding a real book in one’s hands and I regret the demise of that sense of permanence, however illusory that undoubtedly was. For the article please go to http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/10777079/RIP-for-OED-as-worlds-finest-dictionary-goes-out-of-print.html