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Language

‘Gammon’ and ‘Vegan’ are among Collins Dictionary Words of 2018

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Gammon has been named Collins dictionary’s Word of the Year 2018 along with a small list of others.

Other words of 2018 include Vegan, MeToo, and Gaslight- a real reflection of the direction 2018 has taken. Many of this year’s most used, newest, and redefined words are coming from the left side of the political spectrum. As a reaction against ingrained cultural sexism, institutional racism and xenophobia, words like gammon or whitewash have been on the rise.

Some may find the word ‘gammon’ offensive, and they are entitled to express their distaste, however the word is only truly offensive to those who the word is aimed at. The word first came about when a pattern emerged on BBC’s Question Time. It became apparent that older white men became quite pink in the face while ranting about ‘bloody foreigners’, ‘Brexit’, and the EU. It is not, despite many wannabe victims insisting it so, racist.

The full list of Collins Dictionary’s Words of the Year 2018 are below.

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Alternative Word Definitions from British Comedy Legends

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Definitions can naturally change over time through usage and societal influences- such is the joy of the English language! With the help of BBC Radio Four’s legendary comedy team we are lucky enough to have some hilarious alternative definitions to consider for the future.

I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue has been on our radios since 1972 with regulars Humphrey Lyttelton, Graeme Garden, Barry Cryer, Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Willie Rushton. Throughout the years, the “antidote to panel shows” has featured comedy greats such as Sandi Toksvig, Pam Ayres, Victoria Wood, Bill Oddie, Richard Osman, Stephen Fry, and Jo Brand.

As well as the genius of Mornington Crescent, the team regularly come up with entries into the Uxbridge English Dictionary, an imaginary dictionary full of daffynitions (similar to transpositional puns).

Check out our selection of daffynitions below!

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Student Creates Most Useless Phonetic Alphabet in the World

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English is a funny old language isn’t it? Phonetic isn’t phonetic, we have a stack of silent letters, ‘queue’ has one letter that is sounded and four that are silent (or patiently waiting their turn).

Well now a student at an unknown university has created the most useless phonetic alphabet imaginable. Could you imagine anything less helpful? Scroll down to see.

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15 moments when a Swansea bookshop won Twitter

By | Bookshops, Language | No Comments
Bookshops are often thought of as quiet, thoughtful places where people go to buy, read, and sniff the books. Sometimes it can be tricky to make the bookshop seem like a super-exciting and stimulating place to be, but one branch of Waterstones has been trying to entice people in with their witty rhetoric on Twitter.

Ok, so perhaps the only people impressed with cheeky banter from a retail social media account are possibly just Reading Addicts… And it is a good job you are all here!

Settle down with a cup of tea and these 15 witty, silly, and funny quips from Swansea Waterstones.

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Lancôme helps tackle illiteracy in young women

By | Language, News | One Comment
Lancôme have joined forces with the National Literacy Trust to create a new programme tackling illiteracy in young women. The UK’s shocking stats show that 9% of young women aged 16-24 are affected by illiteracy and 14% lack basic literacy skills. These problems usually stem from low pay, and unemployment.

Words For Work: Women in Leadership was launched this week in London with help from NLT’s Fiona Evans, actor Kate Winslet and writer Chidera Eggerue, as part of Lancôme’s global campaign Write Her Future. The global campaign aims to tackle the literacy crisis that affects over 76 million young women. The partnership will last for at least three years, in three schools for the first year, in three cities- London, Nottingham and Manchester.

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10 examples of how the English language trolls us

By | Language, On Writing | No Comments
The English language has been trying to trick us for centuries. Homophones are not necessarily homographs, and vice versa.  We steal words from other languages, alter some, inexplicably keep others unchanged. It is a wonderful process that ends up with a language that bamboozles and baffles those attempting to learn English as a second (or third or fourth) language.

To be perfectly honest it confounds even native English speakers at times.

Here are 15 examples of when the English language has trolled us very cleverly indeed.

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Study Finds Social Media May Be Causing Lower Literacy Levels in Children

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A recent study by University College London (UCL) has suggested that heavy use of social media can cause lower levels of literacy in children. The study was based on 11,000 children tracked from their births in 2000 and has found that time spent on social media could be distracting children from reading and homework, thus having an adverse effect on their literacy.

As The Telegraph reports, Director of UCL’s International Centre for Lifecourse Studies, Professor Yvonne Kelly, said the findings suggest a link between “the amount of time young people spend on social media and their levels of literacy.” Read More

J.K. Rowling Can’t Stop Laughing After Donald Trump Publishes a Grammatically Incorrect Tweet Boasting About His Writing Skills

By | Language, News, Political | 2 Comments
It seems famed Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling can’t stop laughing after President Donald Trump published a Tweet criticising the press for “pouring over” his Tweets in an effort to find any spelling or grammar mistakes. Trump pointed out that he has written “many best selling books” and that he only capitalizes certain words for emphasis, not because they should be capitalized. Unfortunately for Trump, the Tweet in which he praised his writing skills included a typo. Can you spot it?
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When ‘spell it how it sounds’ goes terribly wrong…

By | Inspired by Literature, Language | No Comments
Sometimes advice is well-intentioned but doesn’t work in all instances- like the ‘I before E’ rule, for example, or ‘spell it how it sounds’. Clearly people can get confused, and despite trying their hardest they occasionally come out looking like a fool.

We have all been there, right? When we are unable to remember how to spell a word and have to take a massive guess… Sometimes it works out- often it does not.

Here are 10 examples of when “Just spell it how it sounds” is actually terrible advice.

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Oxford English Dictionary Hunts for Regional Words

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The Oxford English Dictionary has launched the ‘Words Where You Are’ appeal in the hope of documenting regional language that is often not recorded as it is only spoken. You know the kind of words, the words you use all the time but then you go to a different part of the country and the word is met with a blank stare.

As a Welsh person I am well aware of this phenomenon, especially as we use so much incidental Welsh in our speech. That’s a whole different language but around the UK different regions also have their own variations on regional words.
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