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All the English You Will Ever Need


The English language is constantly evolving, both the words we use and the rules that control the usage of those words.  Therefore, it is impossible to ever have a definitive grammar guide, or, if you will, a Complete Guide of American English.  And that’s our excuse.



Word of the Every So Often

October 14, 2019

scrofula:  (noun)  tuberculous of the skin, which is really nasty and causes all sorts of nasty swellings and skin lesions.  Well, son, I'm afraid Scruffy has the scrofula.  His only hope now is to be petted by the King.


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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Unnatural Flavours

If a product says it contains natural flavours... what does that mean?  If my soda, say, has cherry flavour in it, all that really means is that "cherry" is a "flavour" that is found naturally... well... in nature.  We'll worry about redundancies later.  Therefore, anything that hasn't been produced by humans can be considered to have a "natural" flavour.  It tastes that way with no help from us, aside, perhaps, from the occasional manipulation of DNA by intrepid scientists.  Along those lines, chromium would not be a natural flavour.  Crude oil, on the other hand, would be a natural flavour, but gasoline would not.  Water would be a natural flavour (and, yes, water has a flavour), but Coca-Cola (to use a random example) would be an unnatural flavour.

But here's the thing:  Just because a product says it contains "natural flavours," even if the product itself is inherently unnatural, doesn't mean that any of those natural flavours are actually in it... at least, not the real thing.  For instance, if one of those intrepid scientists can make crude oil taste like cherries, then the Coca-Cola Company (still using a random example) could put that sludge in a Coke, call that mixture a Cherry Coke, and claim it was made with "natural flavours."  And they wouldn't be lying, especially if they had their fingers crossed behind their backs, which is a legal defense in several states, and, especially, the District of Columbia.

But, hey!  Don't take my word for it.  Buy a Cherry Coke (once again to use a random example) and read the ingredients.  Nowhere at all does it ever say that an actual cherry came anywhere close to that bottle, unless you happened to walk through the produce department on your way to the checkout.  So drink up and enjoy that bottle of water, high fructose corn syrup, caramel colour, phosphoric acid, caffeine, and, of course, all those natural flavours.  And while you're doing so, try and figure out just, exactly, what colour "caramel" is.


2:13 pm pdt 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Connote and Denote

To connote is to imply a meaning or a condition.  To denote is to define it exactly.  For instance, the inscription on the cave connotes that there may be a ferocious beast inside.  The name badge on the dragon denotes that she is, indeed, that ferocious beast.


12:45 pm pdt 

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