Archive for June, 2009

My first post on this blog, on 1 May, celebrated Carol Ann Duffy’s appointment as Poet Laureate. Her first poem since then has been published in today’s Guardian. How it makes of your face a stone that aches to weep, of your heart a fist, clenched or thumping, sweating blood, of your tongue an iron latch […]


… “Web 2.0”, according to The Global Language Monitor, which uses statistical techniques to document, analyse and track trends in language the world over, with a particular emphasis on Global English. The site is a bit of a hotch-potch, with sections on Politically Correct Speech, Bushisms, Fashion, Hollywood, Obama, the Olympics, and lots more. It […]


Writing in today’s Telegraph, Simon Winchester celebrates the joys of English, “our truly global language”, which should soon number 1 million words. Here’s his eye-witness account of the moment one of them was created. And so, in every gruesome detail, and in an open-plan Thameslink carriage, I related the saga: the sharpening of the blade, […]


No, don’t worry – I’m not about to turn this blog political (well, maybe just a little bit). The political reference is because I’ve discovered a couple of marvellous web sites for anyone who loves words – old ones crying out to be saved and others that are simply weird and wonderful – and am […]


The New York Times has been reporting on research by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Antropology in Leipzig, where scientists have genetically engineered a strain of mice whose FOXP2 gene [a gene sculpted by natural selection to play an important role in language] has been swapped for the human version.  According to the paper, people […]