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13th June 2014

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Collywobbles, hubbleshoo

A list of words, some of them Yorkshire dialectal, used in Ross Raisin’s novel God’s Own Country:

Collywobbles, hubbleshoo, daffled, trunklements, unsnecked, nithering, snickleway, nazzart, powfagged, aflunters, choiled, glegged, jarped, rigwelted, druft, skiffled, blashy, glishy, grum, mawnging, scraffled, frammled, fratchen, tantled, heart-sluffened, claggy, munk, hagmist, bloach, mardy, shuftied, mafted, bluthering, idleback, sluffened, flackering, crozzled, crammocky, slummery, slubbery, slutherment, dafflement, betwaddled, lugger-buggers, barmpots, gozzle.

Tagged: bookswordsdialectlanguageUKRoss Raisincollywobbles

26th May 2014

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10 words only used in Irish English →

New on Sentence firstSmacht, hames, yoke, moryah, and other Irish English verbal delights.

Tagged: languagewordsIrelanddialectIrish EnglishHiberno-English

11th April 2014

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Sacks full of words

Down here everyone arrives with a sack, like the sacks used to keep the wind in, but each of these sacks is full of words — words you’ve spoken, words you’ve heard, words that have been said about you. Some sacks are very small, others large; my own is of a reasonable size, though a lot of the words in it concern my eminent husband.

Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad

Tagged: bookswordsmythsmythologyunderworldOdysseyMargaret Atwood

8th April 2014

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The connotations of ‘meshuge’

Meshuge' is a Hebrew word which has survived in Yiddish, and as such is universally understood in all Central and Eastern Europe: it means 'mad', but it carries the additional idea of an empty, melancholic, doltish and lunar folly.”

Primo Levi, The Reawakening

Tagged: wordslanguageHebrewYiddishsemanticsconnotationsPrimo Levi

12th February 2014

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Often he felt when he spoke to her that for her the words came physically from his lips, that they were things she could examine after he’d ejected them, in order to assess their truth.
— William Trevor, ‘Dempsey’

Tagged: writingwordsbooksIrish literatureshort storiesWilliam Trevor

4th January 2014

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Centuries of dissident cephalopod gnosis

I’m reading China Miéville’s squid-cult apocalypse romp Kraken and just came across the phrase “centuries of dissident cephalopod gnosis” and it may be a long time before I read five consecutive words so splendid.

Tagged: wordsphrasescephalopodsgnosisbooksreadingfantasyKrakenwritingChina Miéville

4th January 2014

Photo with 7 notes

My first, and probably last, doge macro, to mark the American Dialect Society’s choice of because as Word of the Year.
I called it at Macmillan Dictionary last month, and today added a post at Sentence first to celebrate the ADS selections.

My first, and probably last, doge macro, to mark the American Dialect Society’s choice of because as Word of the Year.

I called it at Macmillan Dictionary last month, and today added a post at Sentence first to celebrate the ADS selections.

Tagged: languagelinguisticsdogebecauseWOTYWOTY13American Dialect Societyslangwordslanguage change

20th August 2013

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When you call me Miss or Mrs

When you call me Miss or Mrs.
You invade my private life,
For it’s not the public’s business
If I am, or was, a wife.

(Anon, quoted in Miller & Swift’s Handbook of Non-Sexist Writing.)

More at Sentence first: Ms., Mrs., and Missing options

Tagged: languagegendersexismabbreviationspoetrywritingwordsfeminismux

1st August 2013

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Quotative like can set up a whole miniature drama, with visual content contributing to a richer vocabulary than words alone could license.

Sentence first: “And I’m like, Quotative ‘like’ isn’t just for quoting”

Quotative like can set up a whole miniature drama, with visual content contributing to a richer vocabulary than words alone could license.

Sentence first: “And I’m like, Quotative ‘like’ isn’t just for quoting

Tagged: languagelinguisticsgrammarusagewordslikequotative likelanguage changeEnglish usageinternetmemessyntaxspeechTwitter

3rd June 2013

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Language contact and vocabulary-mixing

[T]he story of English includes not only the change in its sounds and grammar that transformed Old English into the language I am writing in, but at the same time rampant vocabulary mixture with other languages. Writers often attribute this to English being particularly “flexible,” but this is a post hoc misconception. Any language can incorporate boatloads of foreign words, and most have. All it takes is contact between cultures, and of course there is no culture on earth that does not have, or has not in the past had, significant contact with other peoples.

John McWhorter, The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language

Tagged: languagelinguisticswordsvocabularyEnglishJohn McWhorterlanguage change