Submitted by dave  •  May 4, 2005


Is anyone else alarmed by the linguistic nonsense spouted by the newly formed Society for the Preservation of English and Correct Speech? Any comments regarding what they say about grammar, usage and the like would be welcome.

Submitted by sarah3  •  February 17, 2005


Sentence in question: “The coursework for this assignment is differentiated and dependent on grade level and ELA designation.”

on or upon? Does it matter? Does it ever matter?

Submitted by joni  •  February 17, 2005


Which statement is correct?

1. The patient has never undergone a colonoscopy.

2. The patient has never underwent a colonoscopy.

Submitted by manilavanilla  •  January 7, 2005


Since when does colo=ker. For the word ‘colonel’ we say “kernel,” but we don’t say “kerol” for the word ‘color.’ Its just a total disregard for any spelling rules whatsoever.

Submitted by robinbather  •  December 25, 2004

The way the English talk. Bothering details

I suppose I should know the answer to this observation as an Englishman, but I don’t. I listen to the BBC news and I frequently hear the word “headquarters” pronounced as “headcorters”, “Quebec” pronounced as “Kebec” and the word “one” pronounced as “won” with the “o” as in “hot”. When I lived in England 32 years ago I never seemed to hear these pronunciations and they bother me now. I always pronounce “qu” as “qw” and “one” as “wun” (”u” as in “hut”). Are they really just affected speech fads that will die out? Merry Christmas to all

Submitted by debvanermen  •  December 9, 2004

One Love

I would like to know more about the meaning of the popular song, One Love, by Bob Marley. It’s especially popular now in the States because of the current tv ads on traveling to Jamaica. Thank you!

Submitted by nizou2  •  December 6, 2004

Afraid not

Is the phrase “I’m afraid not,” such as in the below exchange, an idiom? It does not seem to make sense to me.

“May I please have the newspaper?” “I’m afraid not.”

Would that construction not indicate “I am not afraid?” To me, it seems that perhaps the phrase came from the shortening of “I’m afraid I can not” by dropping the “can” which completely ruins the ability of the phrase to make logical sense.

Even if I am correct in my assumptions, the phrase is still commonly used and understood. However, in formal writing, should I purposely avoid using this phrase due to my above concerns?

Submitted by nizou  •  December 3, 2004

“Tilting at Windmills”

After doing a brief search and thinking a bit, I cannot come to an answer to the question of what “Tilting at windmills” means or where such a phrase may have come from.

What does “tilting at windmills” mean or symbolize? What are some usages?


Submitted by chuck2  •  November 12, 2004

Is it sunday or sunduh?

My wife and I have this ongoing battle over the word sundae. She always pronounces it sunDUH while I say it’s sunDAY because when they were first made, one could only get the ice-cream treat on Sunday. She says I’m nuts - I say she’s kinda douchey. Who’s correct - anyone know?

Submitted by marta  •  October 29, 2004

silent autumn

Does anybody know why the ‘n’ in the word ‘autumn’ is silent? May it be possible that the ‘n’ sound got lost somewhere at some point in the historical development of English? Or maybe our ancestors mispronounced this word and such is the case up to this day? Or is it just a matter of the English phonology system, which does not allow for pronouncing ‘mn’ clusters? Can any phonologist help?

Submitted by marta  •  August 10, 2004

Proper Names

What’s the linguistic term for the words derived from proper names (e.g. Dianaphiles, Blarism, Clintonite, Ophranisation, MacDonaldisation)?

Submitted by Dyske  •  July 18, 2004

Wiener Coffee

At a dinner last night, my friend at the table put a scoop of whipped cream on his cup of coffee. I then asked, “That’s called Wiener Coffee, right?” Everyone laughed, but I wasn’t joking. As funny as “wiener” may sound, “Wien” is the proper name for “Vienna”, and “Wiener” the proper adjective for “Viennese”. In fact the word “wiener” to mean a type of sausage came from wienerwurst, “Viennese Sausage”.

Then someone else at the table said that the word “India” is never used among Indians. The same goes for “Japan” too. The proper name is “Nihon”. It seems that every non-English speaking country has an alternative name that has nothing to do with the original. Why is this? Why are English speakers compelled to ignore the original and invent their own? (Or, perhaps, this has nothing to do with English.)

The reason why I knew about “Wiener Coffee” is because in Japan, they honor the original names of most countries.

Submitted by yoko  •  June 18, 2004


If octo means 8, why is October the 10th month?

Submitted by avery  •  May 12, 2004


Is there a non-gendered 3rd person singular pronoun that could be used in the place of that awkward he/she? If not, what about ze?

Submitted by charlie  •  May 11, 2004


Try as I might I cannot find out anything about the origin of WILL CALL as in “You can pick up your theatre tickets at the WILL CALL window.” Any enlightenment will be deeply appreciated.

Submitted by Dyske  •  April 10, 2004

Silk and Silkworm

Silk is made from thread of silkworms. The fact that the word “silkworm” contains the word “silk” would imply that the worm was named after silk, but without the worm, we would have no silk. Does this mean that when they first made silk, they had no name for the worm, and they named the worm after the fact?

Submitted by henryix  •  April 9, 2004

Stress pattern in the word ‘totalitarian’

It occurred to me last evening that I pronounce the word ‘totalitarian’ with a major stress on all three [t] sounds. It seems as well that any people I have heard use the word say it that way.

I cannot think of any other English word that has triple major stress. Even double major stress is rare - I can’t think of an example just offhand.

Are there other words in English that have triple major stress?

Submitted by jenga  •  February 15, 2004

It was the coup de’grace of et all!...or was it?

Over the years, I have seen the words “coup de’grace” and “et all.” One day fine day, I decided to look them up and see how they were to be correctly used; unfortunately, I could not find either of them! Perhaps I am spelling them wrong? (Which could very well be the case with “coup de’grace, but I am certain that is how I say “et all” spelt.)

Can someone please tune me in on if these are even words and if so the correct way of spelling and using them?

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