Tagged With mind your language

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The English language is constantly evolving, with new words and phrases spreading among us like an infection - we hear things, then we say those things. The problem is that we don't always bother to wonder if we should. Because of that, the original meaning of some demeaning and hateful expressions get lost in time. Here are some widely used examples.

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In Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, the character of George is haunted by a decades-old memory of accidentally ordering a "Bergin and water" in a crowded pub. While most of us know the difference between bourbon and gin, it's possible you've made a similar faux pas to the sniggers of nearby barflies without even realising it. Here are 20 popular alcoholic beverages that you might be mispronouncing.

Predicting the future is near impossible -- but that doesn‘t stop us all from having a red hot go. Human beings have been predicting the future since the beginning of history and the results range from the hilarious to the downright uncanny.

One thing all future predictions have in common: they‘re rooted in our current understanding of how the world works. It‘s difficult to escape that mindset. We have no idea how technology will evolve, so our ideas are connected to the technology of today.

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Even if your conversational partner can't hear you laughing or see you smiling, it's important to express your appreciation of a joke or a funny story. The many popular options can be boiled down into two types: The hahaha of simulated laughter, and the lol of metaphorical laughter.

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Dating terminology has gotten a lot broader - and a lot weirder - since the advent of smartphones, social media and online dating. It seems like every other day there's another pithy metaphor, slang word or acronym to jot down or brush up on.

Whether you're trying to keep up in the Gen Y dating scene or just want to decipher your teenage kid's wholly alien vocabulary, this glossary of love lingo is here to help.

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Every language has its own slang and phrases you should master to sound like a true native speaker. Australian English is no exception.

You may have heard “G’day mate”, “fair dinkum”, and “strewth!” before, but the dialect is much broader than that. Try these next time you speak to an Aussie and you might convince them you’re “true blue”.

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Just how likely does "probably" sound to you? To some people, "probably" means that something is practically locked in. To others, it means the likelihood of something happening is highly dubious. This graph assigns percentage values to a range of common phrases relating to probability. Turns out you should say "almost certainly" instead of "probably" if you want to minimise doubt.

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At approximately 12am tonight, the 2017 Perseid Meteor Shower is set to wow the world. Many eyewitnesses will use the words "meteor", "meteorite", "comet" and "asteroid" interchangeably to describe the celestial event they're seeing.

In reality, these are all completely different types of space rock. If you want to avoid a social faux pas tonight (or want to be the smarty-pants who corrects fellow stargazers), here's what sets each type apart.

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Steven Pinker, the famous linguist who isn't Noam Chomsky, doesn't think using "literally" figuratively is all that bad. "The figurative use doesn't mean the language is deteriorating," he says in a 2014 interview, comparing it to the hyperbolic use of "terrific" or "wonderful".

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I once heard a comedian say, "Never ask a woman if she's pregnant unless you actually see a baby's head coming out of her legs." Sage advice -- too bad no one ever takes it. I can't tell you how many times people asked me if I was pregnant, if I was planning on getting pregnant or what I was waiting for to get pregnant.

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We all know the rule: "I before E, except after C..." except... uh... something. Good news: You can forget everything except the "I before E" part. And even that will only help you guess correctly three times out of four.

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As a youth, I was a prescriptivist. I thought that correcting other people's speech was doing them a favour. I overheard people saying "Where ya at?" into the phone and muttered, "It's 'Where are you?'" I was technically correct, and I sincerely believed that was the best kind of correct. When I finally got my own mobile phone, I realised that "Where are you?" sounds too aggressive, and the softening effect of "Where ya at?" is more important than the grammar.

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It seems like every time a police officer describes a crash involving a car that exceeded the speed limit, he or she says the vehicle was travelling at a "high rate of speed." This is a bad phrase and everyone needs to stop using it.

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The other day I overheard a conversation that began with, "I'm not racist but..."

Bad start.

It followed with a bog-standard conversation about how people who move to this country should drop everything and dedicate all of their time and energy into learning to speak English. IMMEDIATELY.

Sure, learn to speak English. But here's a newsflash people: English is insanely hard and it makes no goddamn sense, like at all.

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It seems like everyone has different head canon for the word "dude". Did it come from England? Was it about drifters in the Wild West? Thanks to a 2013 study, we have a better idea.

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Last week, a 32-year-old man in the US was nearly electrocuted after falling asleep with his iPhone charging in bed. The key word here is "nearly" - a point of difference many journalists failed to make.

As any English teacher or medical student will tell you, electrocution is not the same thing as an electric shock. While the latter can cause serious injury, only the former results in instantaneous death.

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Contrary to popular belief, commas don’t just signify pauses in a sentence. In fact, precise rules govern when to use this punctuation mark.

When followed, they lay the groundwork for clear written communication. We’ve compiled a list of all of the times when you need the mighty comma.