Archive for October, 2012


Posted on October 31st, 2012 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Oxford English Dictionary has recently created a new website in order to get the public involved in researching the etymology of words.

‘The Appeals are a new part of the Oxford English Dictionary website where OED editors ask for your help in uncovering the history of particular words and phrases. Each appeal is an invitation to assist OED editors in finding the earliest recorded date (or some other key aspect) of a word, to provide an accurate picture of when it made its first appearance in English.’

This isn’t the first time the Oxford English Dictionary has appealed for help from the public. ‘The OED has welcomed contributions from the general public since the project’s very beginnings over 150 years ago.’ Head here if you think you can find a usage of the word mani-pedi before 1972 or baked Alaska earlier than 1882. A short video explanation of the new site can be found here.

The Humble Adverb

Posted on October 25th, 2012 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

In a recent article for the Guardian, Maddie York defends the humble adverb and calls for adverbs to be used more frequently in writing today.

‘There’s a degree of snobbery towards adverbs in writing, especially fiction. Prose littered with adverbs is seen as bad, too directive and controlling, as it tells the reader exactly how everything is being done and said. Students on creative writing courses have the message “show, don’t tell” drilled into them. I can go along with this to a certain point. It’s arguable that you shouldn’t state that a character spoke angrily if the words she’s saying, or her actions, show that anger perfectly well.’

When reading a novel I do not want to be told everything about a character via adverbs.

“Angela jealously snatched at Mary’s handbag woefully lamenting her lack of money.”

But I do agree with Maddie that adverbs can add flare to banal prose writing. Where would the English language be without fabulously pretentious words like utterly and frightfully? Next time you write an essay or a blog post, spare a thought for words like knavishly, owlishly and joshingly. You too can sound like a 1950′s advert by employing a few well placed adverbs.

Dynamic Creative

Posted on October 19th, 2012 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

As a recent university graduate CV writing has become an all too familiar past time. Whilst searching the internet for helpful hints and tips I came across this CNN article that reported on 10 buzzwords not to use when writing your CV. Professional networking site LinkedIn complied it’s top ten list of overused words from ‘it’s 135 million member profiles worldwide, finding that “creative” was the most overused word globally and in the United States.’ The list they complied is below:

  1. Creative
  2. Organizational
  3. Effective
  4. Extensive experience
  5. Track record
  6. Motivated
  7. Managerial
  8. Problem solving
  9. Communication skills
  10. Dynamic

Whilst I agree that words like ‘motivated’ and ‘dynamic’ are somewhat cliched when it comes to CV writing it’s quite difficult to come up with synonyms for words like ‘managerial’, especially if you are applying for a managerial position. If you use a few of these words in your CV I wouldn’t panic, just be sure not to include any sentences in your CV like, I’m dynamic, motivated with a proven track record in problem solving and communication skills.

Long Words

Posted on October 14th, 2012 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Learning a new language can seem overwhelming. This overwhelming feeling is only intensified when you stumble across a word with an obscene amount of letters. Merely trying to read some words out loud can feel like attempting a complex tongue twister. Mark Rice-Oxley recalls in an article for the Guardian that when attempting to learn German he came across many lengthy words.

It was the first thing I found strangely fascinating about German: a word that went on and on until you ran out of breath or got totally lost in the middle. Invariably it had to be hyphenated on to the row below. Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkungen, all 30 letters of it: a very big word for a fairly simple idea (it means speed limits).

(source: The Guardian)

German is not the only language that contains such intimidating words for a non-native speaker. The longest nontechnical word in the English language is thought to be floccinaucinihilipilification (an estimation of something as worthless). Growing up in Wales it was a fun challenge to attempt to pronounce the village Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Of course many lengthy words are not in common usage and some are coined just to be the longest word in a language. Although some long words can seem intimidating at first, once you tame the beast and are able to pronounce and remember them, casually dropping them into conversations with your friends is bound to impress them.