Season’s Greetings!

We wish all our loyal and faithful readers a very happy Christmas, especially Emily’s mum, Marge, Trevor’s brother-in-law, Hoffa and Angela’s son and daughters, Tom, Kate and Lucy. These people sometimes read our blog and have been known to make comments! Also Pablo Castilla in Sevilla and Maria Cristina Diaz in Santander who sometimes like our blog and have learnt some English words from it which they might not otherwise have known (Trevor, you know what I mean). We hope you all have a wonderful day with family and friends whatever your… Read More

Difficult words by Angela Caldin

There are some English words whose meanings I find hard to remember. However often I look them up, they float unfathomably away from me. Here are a few of the worst culprits: Inchoate The first letters of this word don’t indicate a negative because the word comes from Latin inchoare, which means to begin. Inchoate things are just beginning, only partly in existence, imperfectly formed. Unabashed This word is one where the positive version did exist but has fallen out of use. To abash meant to perplex or embarrass in the late… Read More

Angela’s ABCs: meretricious and meritorious by Angela Caldin

There are various words in the English language whose meanings I only half understand, like paradigm or leverage or egregious. There’s also a word whose meaning I thought I understood, but having looked it up, I discover I had misunderstood it completely. That word is meretricious. I had vaguely thought it had something to do with merit and that it described something good, but in fact if you describe something as meretricious, you disapprove of it because although it appears attractive it actually has little value or integrity.  It’s used to suggest… Read More

Voting Frights by Trevor Plumbly

I reckon sitting on a committee is more fun than phoning Vodafone, but only just. I’m not really the collective type. I do get on pretty well with most folk, but I dislike the process of group decision. To me committees are the bastard offspring of the democratic system; they intermarry to reproduce untold social dross, and are a haven for people who can’t make up their own minds. Even those trumpeting the cause of the individual get castrated by sheer tedium and end up agreeing to ‘joint compromise’. Genteel bullying at… Read More

The joys of grammar by Angela Caldin

At school, in English lessons in the middle of the last century, we were taught something called parsing which involved analysing a sentence in terms of its grammar, identifying the parts of speech, and understanding its syntax. I loved parsing and I think this way of looking at language can be helpful in learning foreign languages and in writing in general. One of the main rules of grammar is that the subject of a sentence must always agree with the verb. In other words, they both must be singular or they both… Read More