language

How common are common words?

11 July 2013

One of my favourite podcasts is Slate’s Lexicon Valley. All about language, it is rigorous and detailed in its approach to the subject, which appeals to the closet academic in me, but also extremely entertaining. It is a sign of a good podcast to find yourself bursting out laughing while walking down a busy city […]

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Language is a virus

22 March 2011

Language is a virus and we are its host. Some strains of language are virulent and spread rapidly. Others are weaker, struggling to infect their hosts and easily supplanted by stronger challengers. The natural habitat of the language virus is the social group. Some of the more obvious forms are schoolyard slang (what was unreal […]

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A way with words

4 January 2011

Sometimes the things that are unsaid are far more telling than the things said. I had cause to reflect on this when I stumbled across a book on my shelves that I have not opened for many years. The book, entitled “Deutsche Bank: Dates, facts and figures 1870-1993”, is an English translation of the year-by-year […]

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The Art of Conversation

26 July 2010
Troubled conversation

Have you ever heard the question “Would you like a tea or a coffee” answered with a simple “Yes”? If so, the respondent almost certainly considers their response to be extremely witty. It is, in fact, a violation of once of the general principles of conversation as expounded by the philosopher H.P.Grice.

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