Language Lovers

lockdown word of the year 2020

The year of lockdown

It’s no surprise that quite a few of the words on Collins Word of the Year 2020 shortlist have one big thing in common: the pandemic. Something that changed everyone’s lives so profoundly – leaving no country or continent untouched – was bound to have a… Read More

7 US political terms to baffle Brits

The United States holds its presidential election on November 3rd after a long and sometimes rancorous campaign. While observers in Europe will have become accustomed by now to some of the terminology of the American political scene, with its caucuses, conventions, superdelegates, and running mates, some more arcane American political… Read More
graphic of person on a boat

Months of awareness

Last month, this month and the next two are great for practising Latin numerals, as you do: septem, octo, novem, decem (7, 8, 9, 10). But hang on a moment. Decem means ‘ten’, but December isn’t the tenth month. Or is it? Well, it was once, in the original Roman… Read More

World Space Week

Today, 9 October, is the penultimate day of this year’s World Space Week, a UN event launched in 1999. Space Week falls at this calendar juncture because this first October week is bookended by two key dates. The fourth of October 1957 saw the launch of the Soviet… Read More

Autumn equinox

‘The nights are fair drawing in’ is a trope about the weather that applies powerfully as you read this. The nights certainly are drawing in, and indeed, half past two in the afternoon on Tuesday 22 September this year marks the autumn equinox, when day and night are… Read More

From the Tour de France to the lexicon of cycling

During lockdown, with car traffic substantially reduced, many people discovered – or rediscovered – the advantages and pleasures of cycling. Capitalising on that trend while simultaneously aiming to tackle the UK’s obesity pandemic, the government has promised ‘a revolution in cycling and walking’. London and Greater Manchester’s mayors will also… Read More

Getting back to school

As the circling year veers towards mist and mellow fruitfulness, schools in the UK and many other countries are re-opening – or have already – from COVID-19 induced closures. Government and experts agree that restarting education is not merely a pedagogical imperative but a social one. The official statement by… Read More