Divided by a common language?

Divided by a common language?

Whether George Bernard Shaw actually uttered this much quoted phrase or not is of little importance.  What is indisputable is that there are some profound differences between British English and that spoken by our cousins across the Pond, that go far deeper than the...
Semantic loss or how ‘shit’ turned into ‘stuff’

Semantic loss or how ‘shit’ turned into ‘stuff’

Another great article by the phonologist and Guardian writer, David Shariatmadari1, gave an introduction to the fascinating phenomena of semantic bleaching and grammaticalisation. The former relates to the process whereby a word’s original meaning is reduced or lost...
Why ‘reading the air’ is essential in Japan

Why ‘reading the air’ is essential in Japan

In Japan the expression ‘kuuki yomenai’ (literally, someone unable to read the air) was added to the national lexicon a few years ago, perhaps in response to the influx of international company executives who were singularly unable to do so. Reading the air means to...
Careless talk costs time.  Who’s in control?

Careless talk costs time. Who’s in control?

Is the preference for texting over talking causing a decrease in interpersonal communication skills on the phone and face-to-face? What has happened to the art of conversation? A recent article by BBC Technology1 features the concerns of several experts who warn that...
Paranoia strikes

Paranoia strikes

At first I thought it was my imagination. Then of course, I took it personally: ‘What did I do?’ Or conversely, ‘What didn’t I do?’ Had I been abandoned and relegated to the bottom of the friendship league? Next, I attempted to resuscitate the art of conversation by...
It’s So Funny How We Don’t Talk Anymore

It’s So Funny How We Don’t Talk Anymore

In the immortal words of Cliff Richard (1979), it really seems that we aren’t talking anymore, at least not on the phone. We always had so much to say! One of my over-riding memories of the 1970s is always having so much to say. My father was forever complaining about...