Category Archives: language

The Wonder of Whiffling

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about a book called Toujours Tingo by, as I said then and will repeat now, the splendidly named Adam Jacot de Boinod. The book, a sequel to The Meaning of Tingo, … Continue reading

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The art of public speaking…

…as exemplified by Sarah Palin on Fox News, when asked what she thinks about Obama’s slump in the poll numbers: “Of course they’re sinking. It was just a matter of time before more of that reflection of the people’s uncomfortableness … Continue reading

Posted in language, palin | 4 Comments

Mind your language

Productive dialogue is relatively easy among equals, perhaps because it’s supported by a kind of openness that occurs when no one feels under threat and when the basic aim of the dialogue – greater understanding, a solution amenable to all … Continue reading

Posted in berlusconi, democracy, italy, language | 2 Comments

The face of factual

I’m not a Strictly Come Dancing fan – I prefer reality shows that incarcerate the contestants and reduce them to a state of ratlike desperation – but my heart bled a little for Arlene Phillips today when I saw that … Continue reading

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A footnote to my last post. Googling for images of house sparrows I found myself with an infinite selection of Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow but surprisingly few pictures of the actual bird (in the first three pages, 3 birds to … Continue reading

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This was seen on a lamp post near Piazza Bellini in Naples yesterday. I don’t think the last line is a joke. If it is, it’s missing a heartfelt need. 

Posted in italy, language, naples | Leave a comment


This great photograph accompanies an article in today’s Guardian about the ex-missionary and linguist, Daniel Everett, and his experiences with an Amazonian tribe, as a result of which he’s had probelms not only with God, and his family, but also … Continue reading

Posted in chomsky, language, religion | 1 Comment


There’s an interesting piece on the Guardian books blog today about self-referential humour, triggered by a joke that turns out to be less lavatorial than one might expect. But it’s actually the comments that made me copy the link and post this. One … Continue reading

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God help us

“Say it ain’t so, Joe! There you go pointing backwards again … Now, doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future. You mentioned education, and I’m glad you … Continue reading

Posted in humour, language, religion, USA | Leave a comment

Rule of thump

A misprint I came across in a report I’m editing today, about banana cultivation in atoll islands. It’s talking about how often banana plants should be fed with organic matter and suggests once a month as a rule of thump. … Continue reading

Posted in error, language | 2 Comments