Posts Tagged ‘words’

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A certain je ne sais quoi: French words and phrases used in English

January 21, 2015

by Liz Walter​
French_words
It is an odd irony that the more sophisticated your use of English is, the more likely you are to use French words and phrases. Or, to be more accurate, ones you know to be French – words such as ballet, au pair, abattoir, fiancé, café, and restaurant are so entrenched in English that we don’t really think of them as French at all (even the ones with accents).

French is the first foreign language that most British children learn in school, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that we pepper our own language with it, particularly in some contexts. For example, we often use French words to describe personality, with adjectives such as gauche, blasé, soigné or laissez-faire and nouns such as panache, élan, savoir-faire, sangfroid and joie de vivre. Similarly, we could describe someone as an enfant terrible, a femme fatale, a bon vivant, an ingénue or an éminence grise. Read the rest of this entry ?

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All you need is willpower: the language of New Year’s resolutions

January 7, 2015

by Liz Walter​
newyeargoals
Many of us see the new year as an opportunity to make a fresh start, to give up a bad habit or to take up a good one. Common resolutions (= promises to ourselves) include giving up smoking, doing more exercise, losing weight, or spending more time with our families.

Particularly after Christmas, when many of us have overindulged (= eaten and drunk too much), the idea of a detox (a strict diet designed to get rid of harmful substances from the body) can be quite attractive. However, those with less self-restraint (= ability to control ourselves) don’t need to feel guilty because evidence increasingly shows that such diets have no scientific basis, so all that self-denial (= not allowing yourself to have what you want) is actually a waste of effort.

Many resolutions are worth making, but what is the best way to stick to (= keep doing) them? The main thing is to set realistic goals (= decide on things you can really achieve). You might never run a marathon, but you could probably manage a brisk walk around the park most days. You may not be able to give up sugar completely, but perhaps you could cut down on (= have less of) fizzy drinks. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Let’s celebrate! (words and phrases for parties)

December 17, 2014

by Kate Woodford​​​​
letscelebrate
With Christmas and New Year almost upon us, we thought it a good time to look at the language of parties and celebrations. First, let’s start with the word ‘party’ itself. To have or throw a party or, less commonly, to give a party is to arrange a party: We’re having a party to celebrate the end of the exams. If you provide the place where the party happens, often your home, you may be said to host the party: Rosie has offered to host the party at her place. A party for someone who is leaving a place or a company is often called a farewell party or a leaving party: We’re having a farewell party for a member of staff. An office party is a party for a company’s colleagues. Meanwhile, a party that you throw for a person who knows nothing about it in advance is a surprise party: It’s a surprise party so it’s all top secret.

A celebration is a party or other social event on a special day or occasion: There were lively New Year celebrations all over town. The verb celebrate is also used, meaning ‘to take part in a special social event’: We always celebrate our wedding anniversary by going out to dinner. If you celebrate in style, you celebrate in a place that is expensive and attractive: For those who like to celebrate in style, there are the castle function rooms. To mark the occasion means ‘to celebrate a particular event or day’: It’s not every day you turn twenty-one. I think we need to mark the occasion! Read the rest of this entry ?

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There I was, minding my own business… (The language of anecdotes)

November 5, 2014

by Kate Woodford​​
languageofanecdotes
We all like to tell anecdotes – to share with our friends short, funny stories about things that we have done or seen. Of course, the subject matter of our stories varies hugely, from chance meetings with unusual characters to disasters in the kitchen. However, the phrases that we use to tell these stories are often quite similar. This week we’re looking at anecdote phrases and seeing how they are used in the telling of tales.

Of course, to start with, we need to introduce our anecdote, (which often relates to a topic that is already being discussed). To do this, we often use phrases such as these:

Did I ever tell you about the time I invited Al’s boss round for dinner?

I’ll never forget the time I got locked in a public toilet in Portland.

That reminds me of the time I gave a talk to some children at my daughter’s school. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Valentine’s Day: How to talk about love.

February 13, 2014

by Liz Walter
valentines
February 14th is Valentine’s Day, when people all over the world express their love for one another. With that in mind, we thought it would be good to give you not only some useful words to talk about love but also the phrases or ‘word partners’ you need to use them in a natural way.

The first and most important thing you need to know is that we fall in love. Fall is really the only verb that sounds natural with love, probably because it expresses the idea of what happens to us so well. Falling in love is a kind of accident – usually a happy accident, but one that we are not able to control. We express a similar idea when we say that someone is madly in love, or even head-over-heels in love, as if love makes that person feel crazy and out of control. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Colorful Revolutions

November 7, 2011

by Hugh Rawson

The world has been blessed lately with a number of relatively nonviolent demonstrations by citizens of different nations that have led to the overthrow of authoritarian regimes. Some of these protests – in Tunisia and Egypt, for example – have amounted to revolutions.  But this has created a problem for the media: The word “revolution” implies violent, usually bloody change. Therefore, reporters and pundits have cast around for ways to qualify, or soften, the violent word, often by using the names of colors and flowers.

 The first of the recent series of popular uprisings came in Tunisia toward the end of 2010. Soon after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country in January of 2011, the foreign press began referring to Tunisia’s jasmine revolution. The name seemed appropriate, at least to outside observers.  Jasmine is Tunisia’s national flower. And the phrase had been used before. Mr Ben Ali came and went smelling of flowers: His original seizure of power in 1987 also was called a jasmine revolution. Read the rest of this entry ?

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What’s the weather like with you?

October 28, 2011

by Kate Woodford

With autumn almost done and winter on its way, we thought it a good time to take a look at the range of words and phrases that are used in relation to weather.

In summer, temperatures rise and when they go up suddenly, they soar, as in The temperature will soar into the eighties this weekend. A number of words mean ‘hot’, many of which have additional meanings. When it is close, it is uncomfortably hot and the air quality makes it difficult to breathe. Muggy and sticky both mean unpleasantly hot, referring to a humid heat, in which the air contains a lot of water. Adjectives such as boiling, sweltering, scorching and scorching hot all mean ‘extremely hot’ or ‘too hot’. They are all slightly informal in register. Stuffy describes a room or other enclosed space that is unpleasantly warm and lacks air. Read the rest of this entry ?

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