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Sep 1

Consonant Clusters 14 "Tw-"

Consonant Clusters 14: "Tw-"

A number of words beginning with the cluster tw- are related to spinning, pulling or plucking.

In your leisure time, you may twang a guitar string or if you are unfortunate, tweak a muscle playing sport.

Most of the other words beginning with tw- are related to the number two, which was spelt twa in Old English and pronounced /twa:/. Twine,...

Aug 28

Latin Roots 3: Pendo/pendeo, pendere, pependi, pensum - to hang; to weigh

Latin Roots 3: Pendo/pendeo, pendere, pependi, pensum - to hang; to weigh

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If you are feeling pensive about this root, it is a good idea to spend some time on this blog. Pearls of wisdom will be dispensed, depend on it!

The Latin word pendo means hang, weigh or pay and its variant pendeo carries a similar meaning. This root also carries the meaning of weigh up...

Aug 15

Consonant Clusters 13 - "Squ-" /skw/

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The /skw/ sound is spelt squ- in English, and usually indicates compression. When objects are squeezed, they are squashed into smaller forms, often with a squelching sound.

The cluster is produced by compressing and squeezing the lips together, so there is a pleasing symmetry between the noise made when producing this sound and the words it denotes: another example of echoic...

Aug 4

Latin roots 2; cedo, cedere, cessi, cessum - to go; to withdraw, yield

Latin roots 2;  cedo, cedere, cessi, cessum

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The Latin root ced, and its related forms cess and ceed have led to a vast number of words in the English lexicon.

One reason for this is the sheer number of meanings the word came to acquire in Latin itself. Cedo means I go, I move, but it also means go away from and this meaning led, via French, to the English word...

Jul 21

Consonant Clusters 12 - "Cr"- /kr/

The sound /kr/ is usually spelt cr- in English, and many words containing this combination indicate objects that are bent, or crooked. You may well be reading this while sitting cross-legged, you could be crouching down to get a good look at the screen, or else craning your neck upwards at an angle, like this Whooping Crane (Grus Americana) to the left. 

Make sure that you don't get a...

Jul 14

Frequentatives

Frequentatives

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The frequentative form of a word is one which indicates repeated or frequent action. Although no longer really productive in making new words in English, historically it was a very common method of coining related words from an original stem.

In English, the frequentative forms of verbs ended in -le, or -er. For example, the verb flutter, "to move with quick flapping movements", derives from the verb...

Jul 7

Consonant Clusters 11 - "Spr-"

Consonant Clusters 11 "Spr-"

[Advanced]

Like sp- and spl-, the cluster spr- can be used to describe a liquid that emanates from one point and ends up in another. However, the key element of the spr- cluster is the lateral spread involved.

Spr- liquids spray or spring from their source to cover a wider area. When...

Jun 30

Consonant Clusters 10 - "Spl-"

Consonant Clusters 10 "Spl-" 

Spl- is a cluster which is wonderful in its expressiveness. The combination of sibilant /s/ with plosive /p/ and lateral /l/ moulds the mouth into a gloriously splenetic splutter of sound, with the mouth and lips working splendidly in tandem.

Spl- clearly has a link to the sp- cluster and its spurting liquids...

Jun 25

English Proverbs and Idioms 1

English Proverbs and Idioms

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Complete the quiz to find some of the most colourful English proverbs and idioms.

(Hover your mouse over the  symbol to reveal the answers- tap on mobile devices).

 

1. What is the best way to a man’s heart for aspiring girlfriends? 

a) through his stomach   

b) via his circulatory system   

c) through his...

May 15

Left or Right? Are we right behind you, or are you feeling left out?

Left or Right? Are we right behind you, or do you feel left out?

Like many others, the English language has a preference towards right-handed people and a prejudice against the left-handed in its vocabulary.

This dates back a long way, as the words we have for what is right – that is, morally correct as opposed to what is sinister and gauche have been in the language for centuries. In Old English, the word riht meant right and...