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2D: English’s quirks

The English language has very many strange quirks – some derived from the influence the languages of many different invaders over many millennia, others derived from rather more recent influences. I’ve chosen two articles to illustrate this.

The first is this article from BBC News which discusses the origins of one of my least favourite hackneyed metaphors: that of “battling” cancer. Their short but interesting discussion tracks this back to Richard Nixon’s “war on cancer”, but the fact that the BBC is discussing this use of language at all is almost more interesting than what they have to say.

The second article on language is almost a decade old, but only came to my attention very recently. It was written by Jack Winter for The New Yorker, and is called “How I Met My Wife“. To avoid spoiling the linguistic surprise, I’ll say no more than that!

2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays – except the Wednesday in two weeks, which I’m skipping because it’s New Year’s Day. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!

This 2,093rd post was filed under: 2D.

Some recently published posts

Reflecting on my first ten years as a doctor / June 2019, 8 minutes long

What I’ve been reading this month / June 2019, 6 minutes long

Californian taxis, gun ownership and democracy / May 2019, 9 minutes long

The assassination of JFK / May 2019, 6 minutes long

Crossing the US-Mexico border / May 2019, 10 minutes long

Some random old posts

Why do people read rubbish? / March 2004, 2 minutes long

One of those perfect political phrases / October 2005, 1 minute long

Highly Strung / February 2005, Less than a minute long

Review: Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks / September 2012, 4 minutes long

The life-changing magic of tidying / January 2015, 5 minutes long

Why is this container so radioactive? / August 2012, Less than a minute long


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