Angela’s ABCs: Appraise and apprise

One letter makes all the difference: Appraise means to assess or evaluate. Lose the second ‘a’ and you have apprise which means to inform, notify or advise. ‘I decided to have my father’s war medals appraised by an expert in militaria.’ ‘The expert apprised me of the medals’ value by return of post.’ Having trouble understanding a tricky word? Don’t know whether to use an apostrophe before or after an s? Not sure of your grammar? Ask our word expert Angela, and she’ll get back to you via Angela’s ABCs posts.

Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts by Emily Smart

I heard myself saying to someone the other day, ‘I’m not trying to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, but…’ or some such thing, and I suddenly thought, ‘What the bloody hell am I talking about?’ Obviously, I get the gist of the saying, which is to refrain from telling someone who already knows what they’re doing, how to do something. But where on earth does this well-known maxim come from? Is it that old people have no teeth and therefore have to suck out the contents of an egg to eat… Read More

Mind Your Language by Trevor Plumbly

My schooldays are long past, but I still expect there to be some sort of censure when people make poor use of the English language. Sadly this deterioration is happening at such a rate these days that an army of pedants couldn’t correct or punish the culprits. Newly minted words, phrases and abbreviations are inflicted on us, totally unchallenged, by the Education System or the Media. Like most kids from lower socio-economic backgrounds in the 1940s, elocution wasn’t high on my education list, but that didn’t stop the English teachers of the… Read More

Parlez-vous McSpeak? By Emily Smart

I like McDonald’s. In fact, what’s not to like? They make big fat greasy burgers that can cure even the worst hangover, they have indoor play facilities that keep the kids busy while you try and read a newspaper, and the small people are given a piece of plastic that either waves, makes a loud noise or flashes, and is invariably broken before you can say ‘Get in your car seat please.’ Leaving the politics of obesity and the dodgy bloke in the clown outfit to one side, one thing that struck… Read More

Up in Cloud Cuckoo Land by Angela Caldin

Ever heard of Cloud Computing? I hadn’t until last week when I wondered if it meant computing in secret or computing somewhere high in the rainforest. I decided I must overcome my ignorance and looked up the expression on http://www.techterms.com. There I learnt that: ‘Cloud Computing refers to applications and services offered over the Internet. These services are offered from data centres all over the world, which collectively are referred to as the ‘cloud.’ This metaphor represents the intangible, yet universal nature of the Internet.” I pondered for a while on the idea of… Read More