Just read a fascinating article about how metaphors reflect more than just the way we speak, but also how we think… and how we can be manipulated: The Boston Globe – Thinking Literally
My English site, Lawless English, has information both for non-native speakers (ESL lessons), written in English, French, and Spanish, as well as a series of lessons on typically confusing English pairs for native speakers, (it’s vs its, affect vs effect, etc.) I recently created a blog to highlight new features – check it out!
When I was at MIIS, a friend of mine taking a linguistics class asked how often I replace “going to” with “gonna,” and I said always. But then he brought up the difference between “I’m going to drive to the store” and “I’m going to the store” and taught me something that of course I knew instinctively: “gonna” can only replace “going to” + verb. When “going to” is followed by a noun, you can’t say “gonna” – you can only abbreviate it to “goin’ to” (which I do). Stuff like this fascinates me.
I’m sharing this now because I just read a pretty good article comparing Obama’s and McCain’s use of “g dropping”: Language Log: Emphathic -in’
Do you ever use any of those great Seinfeld expressions like “regift” and “low talker”? You won’t find them in the American Heritage Dictionary, but there are some websites that aim to fill this gap in our cultural lexicon.
The Jerry Seinfeld Dictionary of Terms and Phrases
The Seinfeld Dictionary (searchable)
Seinfeld Dictionary (short listing but allows additions)
Even if you don’t speak French, you do – take a look at these French terms used in English
When talking about something that didn’t happen in the past, many English speakers use the conditional perfect (if I would have done) when they should be using the past perfect (if I had done):
Lesson on “If I would have…” vs “If I had…”