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Tag: english

  • Melvyn Bragg on Singlish

    This may be my last post for about a month. I hope to be blogging again from the middle of November. So, before the hiatus, one last post about Singapore. Here is Melvyn Bragg writing about Singapore English. He is an eminent British journalist, who edited the recent issue of The New Statesman magazine, which […]

  • How words get into the Oxford English Dictionary

    I have seen the word “linguaphile” (meaning word lover or language lover) on Dictionary.com and the Free Dictionary, but it’s not there in the Oxford English Dictionary. It no longer tries to be comprehensive. “The language is expanding so fast this may be an impossible mission,” said Edmund Weiner, deputy chief editor of the Oxford […]

  • Avatar No 1 on the Net: Indian words in English

    Viagra sounds like the Sanskrit word for tiger — “vyaghra”. Henry Hitchens points that out in his delightful book, The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) notes the similarity but doubts any connection between the two words. The “vi” of Viagra possibly comes from virile and virility, it […]

  • On Julia’s Clothes and 99 other most popular poems

    This must be one of the shortest, heavily anthologized poems in the English language. On Julia’s Clothes, by Robert Herrick, runs to only six lines. But, witty and playful, this 17th century poem is one of the 100 most anthologized poems in the English language, according to the Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry. Here are […]

  • That Old Cape Magic

    Richard Russo’s That Old Cape Magic is one of the most heartwarming novels I have read this year. As a story of American academic life, it is far more enjoyable than Zadie Smith’s On Beauty. The protagonist, Jack Griffin, is a middle-aged former Hollywood scriptwriter who has become an academic like his parents —- two […]

  • Malcolm Gladwell on outliers, maths and rice

    The Chinese are good at maths because their number words are remarkably brief, says Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers. He quotes from The Numbers Game by Stanislas Dehaene, who wrote: “Most of them can be uttered in less than one-quarter of a second (for example, 4 is “si” and 7 “qi”). Their English equivalents […]

  • Shakespeare On The Double! The Bard in plain English

    Shakespeare On The Double! Twelfth Night translated by Mary Ellen Snodgrass The greatest English playwright in plain English at long last! Now I can understand every word written by the Bard as long as I have a copy of Shakespeare On The Double! in my hand. Shakespeare On The Double! The unusual format of this […]

  • A New World by Amit Chaudhuri

    A New World by Amit Chaudhuri Amit Chaudhuri is one of the finest but possibly less known Indian authors writing in English. His language can verge on poetry and be as vivid as a movie. But nothing much happens in his stories. That didn’t matter very much in his early novels, A Strange and Sublime […]