Gooder English

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Differences in language-related brain activity affected by sex?

Men show greater activation than women in the brain regions connected to language, according to researchers from CNRS, Université de Montpellier I and Montpellier III. This work is published in the February 2009 issue of the journal Cortex. Full story >>


March 23, 2009 Posted by | Misc. | | Leave a comment

Parallel Constructions in the real world

People often abuse parallel constructions -as if they are so hard to use! Here, because of the misplaced correlative conjunction, Hayden Panettiere could be a fan of Kiefer Sutherland. Or she could be an actual vampire movie!


And while we’re on the subject… Here’s a another lead that only gives half of the pair not only…but also.  Find out the rest of the mistakes in this post.


March 20, 2009 Posted by | writing | , | 2 Comments

Social Notworking

Collins is monitoring a number of words to see if they catch on. Whether or not they will is of course difficult to tell, but that they’re very witty and inventive is for sure. Here are some of the words that Collins is watching:

  • Staycation: a holiday spent at home because you’re hard up
  • Brickor mortis: a difficult period in the construction industry
  • Social notworking: surfing social networking sites when you should be working
  • Recessionista: a person who buys cheap or second-hand clothing
  • Mancation: an all-male group holiday
  • Manscaping: the aesthetic grooming of a man’s bodily hair

March 18, 2009 Posted by | dictionary, vocabulary | , | Leave a comment

Wordmonger on Puccino

“I’ve mentioned Puccino’s coffee kiosk near platform 13 at Clapham Junction station before (here). Puccino’s offer a veritable feast for those interested in language (I can’t comment on whether they offer a gastronomic feast, too, as I’ve never bought anything from the kiosk) as they use quirky advertising slogans and non-standard grammar.” Read full story >>

I think I have found a new best friend –The Virtual Linguist is such a lovely blog. A very nice read if you’ve got a couple of minutes to spare -and not too academic to boot.

March 17, 2009 Posted by | vocabulary | | 1 Comment

“Met de krik ketsen”

Excuse me -cricket’s Flemish? Really? Of course it is! Admitted, there’s no real evidence, but eh… yes, of course it is!

Two academics claimed in early March 2009 that the archetypal English game of cricket is really Flemish, not — as traditionally believed — based on English children’s games that date from Anglo-Saxon times. As the Ashes test matches between Australia and England were due to be played in England a few months later, this challenge to England’s claim to be the homeland of cricket provoked much uncritical newspaper comment in cricket-playing nations. Full story >>

March 15, 2009 Posted by | Misc., vocabulary | | Leave a comment

Collocation of the Week

Just stumbled upon this site, Collocation of the Week, which aims itself at advanced students of English.

“Each week I take a common word and look at five collocations of it, one a day. At the end of the week there is a short test where you can see what you have remembered. If you want a PDF of the week’s collocation, press the link at the bottom of the page.”

Can’t do much harm to go & have a look, now, can it?

March 13, 2009 Posted by | language learning, vocabulary | | Leave a comment

is it ‘he or she’ or ‘they’ or ‘ip’?

CNN posted an interesting article on the lack of a gender-neutral pronoun in English.

There have been at least 18 recent tweets (i.e. a message on Twitter, gb) about the fact that English has no grammatically correct substitutes for words like “he,” “him,” and “his” that do not have a gender implied.

Consider the sentence “Everyone loves his mother.” The word “his” may be seen as both sexist and inaccurate, but replacing it with “his or her” seems cumbersome, and “they” is grammatically incorrect.

It turns out that an English speaker’s mind can’t instantly adopt an imposed new gender-neutral system of pronouns, linguists say. A sudden change in the system of pronouns or other auxiliary words in any language is very difficult to achieve.

That’s because pronouns are “function words,” which connect words and phrases but do not have “content” meanings. While new nouns like “cyberspace” and verbs like “to google” become widespread fairly quickly — and people often come up with synonyms for “cool” — it’s much more difficult to introduce or change function words. The mind just won’t incorporate them.

Read full article >>

March 7, 2009 Posted by | Misc. | , | Leave a comment

MacMillan Online

Macmillan has launched a new free online dictionary. New features include audio pronunciation and a thesaurus. Coming soon are search widgets, toolbars and RSS feeds for the popular word of the day.

The minimalist interface is clean and easy to use. The audio pronunciation feature is really useful for learners, and there are even sound effects (check out the entry for “wind“). As Jeffrey Hill remarks, best of all is the fully integrated Thesaurus—it suffices to click the T button in an entry to review related words/synonyms.

By the way, you can find a collection of online dictionary and translation resources on

March 6, 2009 Posted by | dictionary, internet | | Leave a comment

Daily Writing Tips on Eponyms

Daily Writing Tips has a fascinating post about eponyms, i.e., words derived from proper names.

Many eponyms derive from deliberate choices to call a product, invention, or scientific discovery after the person most closely associated with it, for example: macadam, guillotine, pasteurisation.

Sometimes scientific terms are coined to honor a famous person or a friend, for example, watt, ohm, and dahlia.

Other eponyms derive from characters in fiction, mythology, or geographical locations, for example rambo, hermaphrodite, marathon.

In the article you can find a list of “30 eponyms that owe their existence to something—physical features, manner of dress, writing style, profession, or behavior—associated with specific people (and one elephant). If you curious to know who the Belgian in the list is, go & read the full article

March 3, 2009 Posted by | internet, Misc. | | Leave a comment

The top 10 misquoted phrases in Britain


Many phrases we use are often misquotes from Shakespeare and other traditional sayings – and people do not realise they have made mistakes.

Now a new poll has revealed a top ten of the most misquoted phrases in Britain.

Top of the league is a “damp squib”, a term for failure named after a dud 19th century explosive mining device, which is often mispronounced as “damp squid.”

Others in the chart include “one fell swoop” which was originally uttered by MacDuff in Shakespeare’s Macbeth but which is often mistakenly repeated as “one foul swoop”.

Another favourite is the Shakespearean quote from Merchant of Venice “all that glisters is not gold” which we misquote as “all the glitters is not gold”. Read full article >>

February 26, 2009 Posted by | Misc. | , | Leave a comment