On a course a few years ago, the trainer asked us to record the first thought that popped into our heads on hearing the word ‘brook’.  The rest of the group came up with words like ‘blue’, ‘tranquil’ and ‘babbling’.

My contribution?  ‘Anglo-Saxon’.

The reason for this is that ‘brook’ is a word that entered the English language during the Old English period.  Unfortunately, the trainer thought I was taking the michael and asked me to do the exercise again ‘properly’ – so I pretended that that hadn’t been my first thought, and put forth a more conventional answer.

I mention this example as it’s reflective of how I think.  A disproportionate amount of my brain activity is spent wondering about language – where words come from, why we say certain things, and how I can use words more effectively.   To quote a former colleague of mine, I am a ‘word nerd’ extraordinaire – and this blog is my attempt to stop talking to myself about language and start talking to others.

Am I qualified to write this blog?  I won’t pretend this is the most scholarly blog on language you’ll ever read – but I did read English at a well-known university and I specialised in language change (or philology as the university liked to call it).  So I have a little education on the topic – although as we all know, that can be a dangerous thing!   I’ll also try and research anything I write (and not just rely on the gods of Google.)

Professionally, I also work in corporate communications, so I get to experiment with words as part of my job.  And this blog actually started out of my last job.  I seemed to spend a disproportionate amount of time explaining the basics of grammar – so thought I’d write them down somewhere.  My boss encouraged me to blog, the blog wandered off grammar on to more general language issues pretty quickly, and I seemed to grow quite a surprisingly large audience of fellow ‘word nerds’.

I don’t really have a set agenda for this blog – other than to say it will be a little bit of this and a little bit of that about English … and probably quite a few hand-drawn diagrams along the way.


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