Donald Trump has changed the way we speak and that is, to coin a presidential phrase, sad

by Rashmee

Posted on July 18, 2017


It is a sign of the times that a potential columnist pitches an idea to an editor as follows: “…this is to coin a presidential phrase, sad.” Yup, folks. Donald Trump has changed the way we speak and write. Both personally and professionally. And linguistic purists don’t like it just as much as those who … Continue reading “Donald Trump has changed the way we speak and that is, to coin a presidential phrase, sad”

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Mind your language in this slacktivist, post-truth world

by Rashmee

Posted on May 4, 2017 / The National


Political junkies, lexicographers and social media users recently enjoyed a rare, shared moment of levity. It was over the terminology employed by a well known British politician to describe the leader of the UK’s main opposition Labour Party. Boris Johnson said that Jeremy Corbyn was a “mutton-headed old mugwump”, sending smooth-talking politicians and skilled wordsmiths … Continue reading “Mind your language in this slacktivist, post-truth world”

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Is the Japanese concept of Komorebi (see pic) really culturally untranslatable?

by Rashmee

Posted on May 18, 2016


Someone posted a blog that listed “11 beautiful Japanese words that don’t exist in English’, which made me think of all the culturally untranslatable concepts we carry around to the eternal bewilderment of other people. (In English, that should include gobbledygook, trade-off and spam.) The 11 “untranslatable” Japanese words that Marie Sugio listed included some … Continue reading “Is the Japanese concept of Komorebi (see pic) really culturally untranslatable?”

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Words that the world badly needs if language is to be on fleek this year

by Rashmee

Posted on January 10, 2016


We know that our language – English, the lingua franca, spoken by more than half the planet’s population – is changing at a faster pace than ever before. This is because of technological developments, the way we live and the way young people are able to communicate new words to each other. So, there’s on … Continue reading “Words that the world badly needs if language is to be on fleek this year”

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Things to look forward to in 2016: Why fizza-ma-wizza makes us giggle

by Rashmee

Posted on December 8, 2015


In January, the Journal of Memory and Language will publish a study on why some made-upwords sound funnier than others and how their silliness comes from the letters used. So, fizza-ma-wizza-ma-dill raises a smile in a way that cata-ata-mata-afa-daba would not. The more uncommon the letters used, the greater the funny bone effect. ‘Z’, for … Continue reading “Things to look forward to in 2016: Why fizza-ma-wizza makes us giggle”

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Let me put it to you straight and on the nose: does subtlety in art suck?

by Rashmee

Posted on November 9, 2015


I remembered Aleksander Hemon’s plea for unsubtle adjectives while reading Forrest Wickman’s swipe at subtlety (it sucks, he wrote in Slate magazine). Mr Hemon, it may be recalled, taught himself writer-ly English while stranded in America by the Bosnian war. He is considered the master of the unusual coinage, a writer who deliberately disdains minimalism, … Continue reading “Let me put it to you straight and on the nose: does subtlety in art suck?”

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Computer says…the robot journalist could get to Pulitzer status. Really?

by Rashmee

Posted on July 10, 2015


In Chicago, they’ve got computers that are being taught how to file copy. Journalist’s copy. Oh, it’s just basic sports reports and business stories so far, but the faux journalist’s creator Kris Hammond says it’s only a matter of time. Before what? Before they write like Hemingway? Surely not. Most human journalists don’t write like … Continue reading “Computer says…the robot journalist could get to Pulitzer status. Really?”

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The only 4 things that can be done about the Greeks, in plain English

by Rashmee

Posted on July 5, 2015


The only sensible suggestions on what’s desirable and what’s possible in the Greece crisis have come from Austan Goolsbee, formerly President Obama’s top economist. Mr Goolsbee, who’s now at the University of Chicago, speaks plain English, which is handy if you’re not an economist (which must of us are not). Here’s a summary of what Mr … Continue reading “The only 4 things that can be done about the Greeks, in plain English”

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The drama over ‘Greecisms’ in every twist of the neverending story

by Rashmee

Posted on July 3, 2015


The next instalment of the Greek drama is due for July 20. That’s when Greece is scheduled to repay the ECB €3.5 billion. Defaulting on its IMF debt on June 30 was serious but July 20 is the big date – defaulting on the ECB would mean an almost certain exit from the euro area. But … Continue reading “The drama over ‘Greecisms’ in every twist of the neverending story”

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Hulu streams ‘Seinfeld’ to the world but which bits speak Noo Yawk?

by Rashmee

Posted on June 29, 2015


Now that ‘Seinfeld’ has finally arrived at a streaming service (on Hulu not Netflix), spare a thought for those whose job it is to prepare the hit American sitcom for foreign audiences. That means anyone who’s not a New Yorker really, because getting ‘Seinfeld’ is not about whether or not you speak English. Do you … Continue reading “Hulu streams ‘Seinfeld’ to the world but which bits speak Noo Yawk?”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, UK and US