Christine Lovatt’s Hello Column

Christine’s Hello column appears monthly in Lovatts BIG Crossword magazine

Indigenous languages’ contribution to English

Cooee!

2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages and a good time to look at the contribution made to our vocabulary by the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander languages of Australia. There are all the words you might expect, such as budgerigar, koala, billabong, corroboree, bombora, woomera, yabby, boomerang, kookaburra, dingo and currawong. However, [more…]

Words for Family Members

Have you noticed that we have the word orphan for a child whose parents have died, and widow or widower for a person whose spouse has died, but no word for a parent whose child has died? Author Jen Hutchison would like the word motherling to be used for a mother who has lost [more…]

Traitors, treachery and treason

Traitors sometimes pop up in our crossword clues, highlighting the fact that history is full of tales of treason. In some cases, the names of traitors have become words to describe a person who acts treacherously.

The most famous traitor is probably the biblical disciple Judas Iscariot, who indicated Jesus’ identity to the Temple guards [more…]

Words about Sleep

Puzzler Cathy Parker asks why we say we ‘fall’ asleep. One theory is that when you nod off in a chair, your head falls forward. If you’re lying down, it feels like falling, as you sink into the bed and go to sleep.

Another theory is that to fall asleep, like falling ill or falling [more…]

The origins of beer 🍺

Beer is one of the world’s oldest prepared drinks and the third most popular drink in the world, after water and tea – certainly the most consumed alcoholic drink.

Beer dates back to at least 5th millennium BC, in Iran. Cereal was first farmed around 10,000 BC, so it’s possible beer was brewed then, as [more…]

How new words enter our language

Our English language has a huge vocabulary – possibly larger than any other language.

This is because we have had so many varied sources. The Anglo-Saxons brought their West Germanic languages with them. After the Norman invasion of 1066, French became the language of the courts. The church, universities and legal world used Latin, so [more…]

Stuff, explained.

Is there any word more versatile than the word ‘stuff’? It’s an informal way of saying ‘things in general’, for physical objects, such as all your worldly goods, “I put my stuff in storage and went around the world”, or just what you’re holding, “Where can I put my stuff?”.

It can also mean ideas [more…]

The Favourite Words of Many

A few months ago, I wrote about favourite words of famous people and I asked you puzzlers to tell me your own favourite words.

Puzzler Billie Halpin’s favourite word is onomatopoeia, which means the formation of a word from a sound associated with the meaning, such as sizzle, which sounds like a sausage frying in [more…]

Eponyms: What are they?

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 chef [more…]