Language Reports

Controversial Usage Rules: the Case of Comprise

Comprise is a popular verb when discussing parts of a whole, but many writers are unsure of how to use it correctly. Do the parts comprise the whole, does the whole comprise the parts, or are both constructions correct? Can you use the passive form comprised of? This article will examine the traditional rule as well as the history of usage that challenges it.

Naturalized Flavours

The culinary theme continues in this month’s selection of Word Stories. After sampling a few recent additions to the anglophone diet, we return to some of its most common and best loved products: tea, chocolate and ketchup.

Using Accents and Diacritics in English

To many speakers of English, there is something distinctly foreign about those small symbols that accompany letters in words like piñata, café, and many more. The reason for this is no mystery; they have never been a prominent part of the English writing system, unlike most languages that use a Latin script. Although many people call them accents, the correct name for these symbols is diacritic mark or simply diacritic.

Lexical Nourishment

Although the English language is a complex blend of diverse ingredients, the English-speaking world is not typically known for the richness of its cuisine. Our native culinary stock is particularly meagre when it comes to vegetarian and vegan options, which probably explains the large number of borrowings in this category. Meat-free anglophones borrowed two key components of their diet from opposite corners of the earth, helping themselves to their names while they were at it.

Millions, Billions and Other Large Numbers

The word billion was not introduced in the French language until the fifteenth century and didn’t find its way into English until the end of the seventeenth century, which is fairly late in the history of counting. What words were used before this time to talk about large numbers?

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