What’s in a name? By Angela Caldin

There’s a New Scientist journalist called John Hoyland who invented the term ‘nominative determinism’ for those strange and interesting cases of people who seem drawn to their chosen profession because of their name. He became interested in the subject after hearing of a scientific paper by authors JW Splatt and D Weedon on the topic of incontinence, on the same day as seeing a book on the Arctic written by Daniel Snowman. Some obvious examples include Judge Judge and Doctor Nurse, as well as the music teacher called Miss Fiddle who became… Read More

The many meanings of ‘chuck’ by Angela Caldin

Sometimes I’m struck by the richness of the English language, by how one word can have so many different meanings, arriving as it does by a variety of linguistic routes over the years across Europe and beyond. One such word is chuck which I discover has numerous meanings both as a noun and as a verb. Chuck as a verb means to throw something carelessly or casually: The family was frightened when someone chucked a brick through their window. Some people can make a living out of stuff other people chuck away…. Read More

Send in the clowns by Trevor Plumbly

I’m beginning to wonder if the popular concept of progress is entirely beneficial to the human race. Sometimes it seems that the more enlightened we become, the more patent stupidity creeps in. The least harmful, but possibly the most ludicrous, is the current fad for verbal gender neutrality. Today I heard a half hour radio discussion involving four adults, debating whether or not certain words are acceptable to those who wish to ram the more idiotic facets of gender identity down our throats. Somewhat naively, I’ve always held the theory that those… Read More

It’s just one of those things by Angela Caldin

I’ve been pondering recently about the word just which has numerous meanings many of which are frequently found in day to day usage. Noun and adjective First it can be a noun as in the just – people who behave in a morally correct way Second it can be an adjective meaning fair or morally correct: The judge’s sentence seemed just considering all the evidence. Adverb It’s when just is used as an adverb that the fun begins: Just can mean​ now, very soon or recently Wait for me, I’m just coming…. Read More

It ain’t me babe by Trevor Plumbly

You say you’re looking for someone It’s such a blatant excuse for gang hypocrisy that I was surprised to find ‘the big picture’ still quoted. This was on an application for board membership that I was thinking of submitting: the successful candidate would need to be able to articulate strong views, be a team player and, most importantly, be able to see ‘the big picture’. I might have one of those virtues, or even two on the odd occasion, but expecting me to have all three at the same time is a bit… Read More