Tag Archives: phonetics
soft soap & soft solder

soft soap & soft solder

      James Russell Lowell circa 1855         Soft soap, or green soap, is a soft or liquid alkaline soap made from vegetable oils, used in treating certain chronic skin diseases.   Figuratively, soft soap means flattering, persuasive, or cajoling talk. And the verb soft-soap means to use such talk on […]

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tennis

tennis

  Jeu de paume – France – 17th century     Paulme: feminine. The paulme of the hand; also, a ball; (and hence) also, Tennis (play;) also, the Palme tree. from A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (1611), by Randle Cotgrave     Fourthly, the inside of the Uvea is black’d like the walls […]

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cheese – fromage

cheese – fromage

  “Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux-cent quarante-six variétés de fromage ?” (“How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”) attributed to Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), French general and statesman, in Les mots du général de Gaulle (1962), by Ernest Mignon photograph: fémivin.com   The word cheese is from Old English cēse, cȳse, […]

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The ‘one’ in ‘alone’

The ‘one’ in ‘alone’

  William Tyndale (1494-1536)     Why is the element ‘one’ in alone and only not pronounced like the numeral one? And why does English, unlike most European languages, distinguish between a book and one book?   The Old English word ān has given both the indefinite article an (a before consonant) and the numeral one. In Scotland, ane has survived both as […]

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The veracious story of a worthy knight, called Sir Loin of Beef

The veracious story of a worthy knight, called Sir Loin of Beef

  At Astley Hall (Lancashire), you can still see this chair… … with the following explanation: Sirloin Chair – King James I reputedly knighted a loin of beef upon this chair at Hoghton Tower, Lancashire, in 1617. Se non è vero, è ben trovato. (Even if it is not true, it makes a good story.)     The […]

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