mind your language

'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.


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.


Who's Your Daddy? Learn The Difference Between Whose And Who's

An apostrophe in English can indicate either possession or missing letters. One example that everyone gets wrong is it’s versus its. A similar example that goes awry almost as often is whose versus who’s.


In Australia, It's Safest To Spell 'Yoghurt' With An 'H'

One of the most crucial factors with yoghurt is consistency — you want it to be rich and creamy. Unfortunately, consistency is not a hallmark of the English language, which is why there’s a lot of confusion over whether yoghurt or yogurt is the accepted spelling.


Your Colleagues Are Not Your 'Work Colleagues'

Knowing what a word means is critical to using it correctly. If you use the expression “work colleagues”, what you’re really saying is that that you don’t know what “colleagues” means.


Silicon And Silicone Are Not The Same Thing

Silicon is element number 14 in the periodic table, and an essential component in the processors that power our computers and phones and lives. Silicone is the stuff which is used in breast implants and earbuds. The two words aren’t interchangeable.