Language Reports

Spells and Curses

Autumn is well and truly here, and people across the English-speaking world have been celebrating Halloween: a fusion of Christian and pagan traditions with a heavy emphasis on magic and the occult. Accordingly, spells and curses are the subject of this month’s Word Stories, although, in the case of one of our words, the connection might seem mysterious at first sight.

Write Smart, Speak Loud, Think Quick: The Score on Suffixless Adverbs

Many English adverbs end in -ly (beautifully, honestly, merely), some other adverbs end in -wise (clockwise, otherwise, date-night-wise), and some never take a suffix (inside, midflight, so, thus). When a flat adverb (such as smart, loud or quick) does have an -ly form (smartly, loudly, quickly), many writers wonder whether it is acceptable to use the suffixless form.

More or Less

With autumn just around the corner, students are heading back to school. Most of them will already be familiar with the theme of this month’s Word Stories, since plus, minus and equals are rudimentary components of any curriculum. However, the subject of the words themselves is rarely covered.

Is It Acceptable to Verb?

Verbing, also known as denominalization or verbification, refers to the creation of verbs from words belonging to other syntactic categories, typically nouns. It is common practice in English, and most of us encounter verbed words several times a day, on subjects ranging from texting to parenting and networking.

Noble Sports

After a succession of food and drink-based Word Stories, it might be time to turn our attention to some physical activity. Badminton, croquet and polo are all sports frequently associated with the English aristocracy, but their etymologies vary greatly, both in their origins and their complexity.

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