Wether, Weather, Whether

Wether is a prime example of a word that will slip past the spell check. It is easily confused with two of its homonyms, whether and weather. Flying fingers find it easy to miss the single letter that separates them. Unless you’re a farmer, you might not even know that wether is either a: male … Read more

Musings on Five Collocations

Speech and writing are made up of single words, but most words we use are grouped as phrases. Many of these groupings occur again and again in specific patterns. Linguists call these predictable patterns collocations: collocation: The habitual juxtaposition or association, in the sentences of a language, of a particular word with other particular words; … Read more

Something Odd Happening with Irregular Verbs

In Old English—the principal language spoken in England from the mid-fifth century until the Norman Conquest in 1066—English verbs were of two main kinds: Weak and Strong. OE weak verbs formed their past tense endings with dental suffixes that have survived into modern English as our -ed endings: walk (present) walked (simple past) have/had/has walked … Read more

Gyre, A Word for Our Times

The noun gyre means, “a turning round, revolution, whirl; a circular or spiral turn.” Birds often fly in gyres as they make use of thermal columns of air. Ocean currents that move in circular patterns are called gyres. The verb gyre means, “to move in a circle or spiral.” The verb gyrate means to move … Read more

On Behalf Of vs. In Behalf Of

The noun behalf (from Middle English, from by and half, meaning “side”) is an unusual word in a couple of respects. For one thing, it is used only in two prepositional phrases, anchoring either “in behalf of” or “on behalf of.” Many other nouns are employed in similar prepositional phrases in which a pair of … Read more