Category Archives: Languagewatch

“Translator’s Note” by Amanda DeMarco

Translator’s Note

A TRANSLATOR must naturally take certain liberties with other people’s words in order to wrest the most truth into the text. In this essay on translation, composed strictly of quotations, I have taken the liberty of replacing select words and phrases with “translation,” “translator,” and the various verb forms of “translate.”

Read the essay by Amanda DeMarco at the Los Angeles Review of Books

Amanda DeMarco is the founder of Readux Books. She is currently translating Franz Hessel’s Walking in Berlin (Scribe Publications, 2016), as well as Gaston de Pawlowski’s New Inventions and the Latest Innovations (Wakefield Press).

From mic drops to manspreading: an Oxford Dictionaries update


Let’s pick that mic up again and check out some of the words that have been added in the world of informal language. The mic drop in question can be a literal ‘instance of deliberately dropping or tossing aside one’s microphone at the end of a performance or speech one considers to have been particularly impressive’, but it’s more likely to be figurative – or an exclamation to emphasize a particularly impressive point: Nuff said. Mic drop.

Read on…

When to use “me”, “myself” and “I”

When to use %22me%22, %22myself%22 and %22I%22

Me, myself, and I. You may be tempted to use these words interchangeably, because they all refer to the same thing. But in fact, each one has a specific role in a sentence: ‘I’ is a subject pronoun, ‘me’ is an object pronoun, and ‘myself’ is a reflexive or intensive pronoun. Emma Bryce explains what each role reveals about where each word belongs.

Lesson by Emma Bryce, animation by Karrot Animation.

Wordnik – Let’s Add a Million Missing Words to the Dictionary


In this fun, short talk from TEDYouth, lexicographer Erin McKean encourages — nay, cheerleads — her audience to create new words when the existing ones won’t quite do. She lists out 6 ways to make new words in English, from compounding to “verbing,” in order to make language better at expressing what we mean, and to create more ways for us to understand one another.

Erin McKean has also started a Kickstarter for Wordnik: “The reason so few words are added to traditional dictionaries is because writing definitions takes a long time. A very talented editor may write seven entries in a day, or she may need weeks to describe just one word. Dictionary definitions are very difficult to write.

Wordnik takes a different approach. Instead of writing traditional definitions, we search for casual definitions that have already been created. You see these casual definitions all the time in good writing!”

More at

140 words that spellcheck might miss

140 words that spellcheck might miss

( #spellcheck #punctuation )

In part one of the Pragmatists’ Guide to Grammar and Punctuation, Creative Boom takes a look at the 140 most commonly confused words in the English language.

Mistakes you’ve probably made – or are making right now. Have a look here.

Hiberno‐English – How well do you know English words from Irish?

Do you think you’ve got the luck o’ the Irish? Make your friends green with envy with your knowledge of Gaelic etymologies and do this quiz at

From Wikipedia: : “Hiberno‐English or Irish English is natively written and spoken within the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland. It comprises a number of sub-varieties, such as Mid-Ulster English, Dublin English, and Cork English.

English was brought to Ireland as a result of the Norman invasion of the late 12th century. Initially, it was mainly spoken in an area known as the Pale around Dublin, with mostly Irish spoken throughout the rest of the country. By the Tudor period, Irish culture and language had regained most of the territory lost to the colonists: even in the Pale, “all the common folk… for the most part are of Irish birth, Irish habit, and of Irish language”.However, the English conquest and colonisation of Ireland in the 16th century marked a revival in the use of English. By the mid-19th century, English was the majority language spoken in the country.[a] It has retained this status to the present day, with even those whose first language is Irish being fluent in English as well.”

Related links:
The Irish dictionary
The Irish English Resource Centre
Everyday English and Slang in Ireland

How To Do An Irish Accent

This VideoJug film will help teach you the basics of the Irish accent. Gareth Jameson, an actor and voice coach, will guide you through some Irish accent techniques. Following his easy Irish accent guide will help you learn the sounds and make you speak like an Irish person.

Irish vs American English

From “American English n’ culture with Philochko”. Part 2 is here.

Confessions of an Idiom

Something funny to start the working week — Everyone has Skeletons in their Closet but what happens if one day the Elephant in the Room decides to make the Skeleton in the Closet bring the truth to light? The Skeleton isn’t one to confess to his crimes so easily. Mayhem ensues in this power struggle with a world full of idioms.

Confessions of an Idiom

This film was done by Amanda Koh and Mollie Helms at Ringling College of Art + Design. If you have any questions, feel free to visit their website at

Confessions of an Idiom

Stay tuned for more information on Facebook.

#AussieSayings you never knew you needed to understand plus some Monty Python

Those #AussieSayings got some attention in the Twitter world the other day and Mashable was so kind to collect some of the best and mostly hard to translate phrases from the land of the Bruces.


More here.

We have to add that the intellectual überminds of Monty Python had a look at #AussieSayings way before Twitter was born of course. Here we go, Ladies and Bruces.

This is the original sketch about the Australian University of Woolloomooloo, not the live version from the Hollywood Bowl show which also includes The Philosopher’s Song. The song does not feature in the original television version, which instead ends with the first Bruces saying “Sidney Nolan! What’s that?” pointing to the ear of fourth Bruce returning to that episode’s running joke, “how to recognise different parts of the body”.

So Thou Wantst to Write Olde-Timey Speech

writing old english
Let’s say you’re a writer or a translator. Wouldn’t you like your work to not only evoke the time period you’re replicating, but actually work?

To that end Jezebel started a new series of posts filed under “Memeievalism” and aimed at giving a few tips toward improving the verisimilitude of your attempts to capture the speech of bygone days.

Read the first post here. The word ‘thou’ is the first lesson.

A good source in this context is the Middle English Dictionary by the way.

Essay: There Is No ‘Proper English’

proper english
Never mind the grammar scolds. If people say it, it’s the right way to speak.

Is there such a thing as “proper English”? Here’s an excerpt from an essay in the Wall Street Journal by Oliver Kamm:

“A few weeks ago, pundits and columnists lauded a Wikipedia editor in San Jose, Calif., who had rooted out and changed no fewer than 47,000 instances where contributors to the online encyclopedia had written “comprised of” rather than “composed of.” Does anyone doubt that our mother tongue is in deep decline?

Well, for one, I do. It is well past time to consign grammar pedantry to the history books.

As children, we all have the instinct to acquire a set of rules and to apply them. Any toddler is already a grammatical genius. Without conscious effort, we combine words into sentences according to a particular structure, with subjects, objects, verbs, adjectives and so on. We know that a certain practice is a rule of grammar because it’s how we see and hear people use the language.

That’s how scholarly linguists work. Instead of having some rule book of what is “correct” usage, they examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct.”

Excerpt from an essay in the Wall Street Journal by Oliver Kamm, editorial writer and columnist for the Times of London. His latest book is “Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage.”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: