Category Archives: The English Language

The Opposite of Paranoia

In my lifetime I can never remember having three crises at once — Covid-19, a stumbling economy, and nationwide protests against police brutality. Put those before an electorate that’s already deeply divided and you have a perfect situation for spawning all types of conspiracy theories. It reminds me of that old saying “You’d be paranoid

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Where Do Our Expressions Come From?

We have a lot of slang sayings in English. How they originate, and how they change over time, can lead to some interesting stories. First, have you heard of the expression “parting shot” ? The modern definition is “a final critical comment.” But its genesis is distinctly ancient. It origin is probably the adjective Parthian, which

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Why Do You Support?

Earlier today, I was talking politics with a friend and the question of supporting President Donald Trump came up. Should you support him in this time of crisis because he is the president, even though you don’t agree with him? In doing so, are you supporting the country for a greater good, or just him

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What is Gaslighting?

Recently I found an article with the provocative title of “Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting” by Julio Vincent Gambuto (https://forge.medium.com/prepare-for-the-ultimate-gaslighting-6a8ce3f0a0e0). I realize English is a flexible language with many manufactured words and slang terms, but I’ve never heard of this before. What is gaslighting? It’s actually a relatively old expression. Wikipedia defines it as “a

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Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare

We can’t ignore this one. This is thought to be Shakespeare’s birthday, although no one know for sure. The Writer’s Almanac for today (April 23, 2020, https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-writers-almanac?) has an excellent summary of his life, better than anything I could write, so I’m just going to copy it here. “It’s the assumed birthday of William Shakespeare (books by this

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Sayings With A Silver Lining

Are you getting tired of staring at your walls and need something to cheer you up? Me, too. So I did an Internet search for ‘silver-lining sayings’ and stumbled upon Wise Old Sayings: Words To Live By (https://www.wiseoldsayings.com/silver-lining-quotes/). Here are the quotes I especially like from the list of 30 that popped up — “Every

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How We Got Here — Noah Webster

April 14, 1828 saw publication of Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language. According to The Writer’s Almanac of April 14, 2020 (https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-writers-almanac? ) — “Webster put together the dictionary because he wanted Americans to have a national identity that wasn’t based on the language and ideas of England. And the problem wasn’t just

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The Origin of Quarantine

In the course of being quarantined and following everything that was happening around the world, I ran across some interesting explanations for the origin of the term itself. The actual  word “quarantine” is derived from the Italian quaranta, meaning “forty.” It is traced back to the language of Venice, Italy in the 14th and 15th centuries. During

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