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St Patrick

The most famous Irishman was actually the son of a Roman official born and bred in South Wales. The legend goes that he was captured by Picts and sold as a slave in Ireland. He escaped to Gaul, where he became a priest and is credited with bringing Christianity to western Europe.

Many countries [more…]

Hello February 2019

One of the many sources of our English vocabulary is the eponym – a word named after a person or place.

Some eponyms are obvious – I’m sure you can guess what Count Pavel Stroganoff lent his name to? Although he descended from wealthy Russian aristocracy, he was born in Paris, where a French [more…]

Hello January 2019

One of the few things that are guaranteed in life – along with death and taxes – is change. Nothing stays the same, both in our personal lives and in the world itself. While we may bemoan today’s modern style and long nostalgically for the beloved way of life from our childhood, change is [more…]

Hello Christmas 2018

When I come across a news item with a common error, I make a note of it. Here are some recent ones:
“There are many versions of the history and entomology of the words used in fairy tales…”
Entomology means the scientific study of insects, so I’m hazarding a guess the writer meant to say [more…]

Hello December 2018

The fashion catwalk sometimes features strange outfits, with designers vying to invent the most edgy creations.These are not necessarily the outfits that catch on – at least, I’ve never seen women wearing dresses made of plastic garbage bags or men wearing crochet tights.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, although I [more…]

Hello November 2018

Everyone has a favourite word or two. In some cases, it’s the sound or the look of the word that appeals, in others it’s the meaning.
Some examples of favourite words chosen in a recent online survey are: NEFARIOUS, INEFFABLE, EPOCH, EPHEMERAL, SONOROUS, IRIDESCENT, EPIHPANY and AURORA.
I came across the favourite words of famous people. [more…]

Hello October 2018

The English language is constantly on the move, and it can be quite a challenge to keep up with the flow of new words and phrases entering our vocabulary.
Some of these verbs you may be familiar with. For instance, you may have heard of the verb to binge-watch, meaning to watch multiple episodes of [more…]

Hello September 2018

I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Apple Isle recently, also known as the Holiday Isle or Island of Inspiration. How appropriate – Tasmania’s ancient landscape is a place of rare beauty and diversity, uncrowded and unspoilt.
We were rocked to sleep by the waves while crossing the Bass Strait overnight, aboard [more…]

Hello August 2018

We all have one, you may hang yours or hold it high. You may shake it, turn it or scratch it. Lose it, keep it or bang it against a brick wall.
I’m talking about your head, also known as bonce, noggin, loaf or nut.  Loaf comes from Cockney rhyming slang ‘loaf of bread – [more…]