language

How To Get By Overseas When You Don't Speak The Language

Unless you have a super-brain, you’re probably not going to learn a whole new language every time you visit a different country. But with the right tools in your arsenal, you can get by. Here’s how to survive when you don’t understand the native tongue.


Why You Try To Do Something, Not Try And Do It

When we fail, we often say we’ll try and do better. Damn! We just failed again. The correct expression is “try to”, not “try and”.


'There's Learnings Every Week Because We Are Frontiering This'

Conference presentations are often where language goes to die. The comment above — a direct transcript of a remark I heard at a technology event last week — certainly has the stench of linguistic death about it. Can you identify the three horrendous errors therein?


Oh Gee, Phlegm Has A G

Hacking up phlegm is not pleasant. Also not pleasant: spelling phlegm incorrectly as phlem.


The Only Time You Can Spell Harbour Without A 'U' In Australia

Harbour is one of the many, many words which have a different spelling in Australian English than US English. We always include the “u”; the Yanks never do. But there are two fair dinkum Aussie examples where leaving out the “u” is actually the right approach.


Glutten-Free: Some Spelling Mistakes Are Stupidly Permanent

Online spelling errors are irritating but easily fixed. A mistake on a sign is more expensive and more permanent. Here are three examples — all within a five-minute walk of each other — that show why it’s important to develop the habit of attention to detail whenever you write anything.


How Jargon Ruins Our Attempts To Communicate

In this high-tech, gee-whiz world, more and more people seem to speak in jargon or, as I like to call it, gibberish. Whether it’s exclusive terms understandable by only a certain few, buzz-words intended to impress in meetings, or euphemisms to make something seem better than it is, the use of jargon really does little more than confuse the listener.


Don't Decide Off Your Own Bat To Use Back Instead

If you do something off your own bat, you don’t require assistance. If you use the incorrect phrase “off your own back”, you definitely need help.


The Correct Way To Spell 'Lifehacker' And 'Lifehacking'

Several readers wrote in to point out to us that “lifehacking” was given an honourable mention in the Macquarie Dictionary‘s 2014 words of the year list. I’m torn over this. It’s nice that the Macquarie editors noticed — but with that said, they seem a little late to the party.


Four Phrases We All Say, But Should Remove From Our Vocabularies

You probably say some things about yourself that you don’t really mean, like laughing at your own laziness or asking about opinions that don’t really matter. Unfortunately, the more you say them, the more power they have over you. Here are four phrases you should keep an eye on.