U is far from Unnecessary

A few days ago we looked at how important U is to its soulmate Q.  But without U we would also struggle to have so many opposites. The OED gives us more than fourteen pages of words starting with Un – from Unabashed through to Unzip. It makes life a little easier for students of English, as often they can confidently take a word, add Un,and there they have the opposite. Some of those fourteen pages list all the Under words, which in itself is a useful addition to so many composite words.  Browsing through some of these Under  words give us some amusing possibilities. How about… undertaker – it’s fine…

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Tell tale T

Well, of course, what is a story if not a tale? The OED definition of a tale is: a fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted So, yes, a story then? At this time of year we think especially of fairy tales, many of which provide the content for the popular pantomimes.  The history of fairy tales is difficult to pin down.  Many were based on folklore, passed down through generations by word of mouth and there is evidence to suggest they have been around for thousands of years. Then, of course, we have the classic work of Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales.   This collection…

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Scrabble lover?

As a lover of word play, then Scrabble just has to be my number one. Reflecting on my own history of Scrabble playing I recall the original large board, with the big tiles that moved around if someone accidentally jogged the table. A few years later I moved onto Travel Scrabble, which was brilliant as the pieces could be put firmly in place and you didn’t even need a table!  Just resting the board on my knee – or someone else’s – made it accessible and a perfect pastime.

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R is for Romance

We have already explored the idea that the English language came in part from Latin, when the Romans arrived on these islands.  We also looked at the other influences on English, which has given us the mixture that we have today.  Those other influences means that English does not join the group of languages described as Romance languages. The Romance languages are the modern languages derived from spoken Latin, between the sixth and the ninth centuries.  The five most widely spoken Romance languages are: French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian with a total of around 780 million people speaking them worldwide. That’s quite a few people! Just…

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Quirky Q

Q brings us lots of quirky, queer and questionable words.  For the Scrabble lovers among us, the challenge is to find words where Q doesn’t have to be followed by its soulmate U. So, here a few to help you out with your next game… (courtesy of the OED) Qi – a variant spelling of chi, the Chinese word for life force Qibla – the direction of the Kaaba to which Muslims turn at prayer Qigong – a Chinese system of physical exercises and breathing control related to tai chi Qintar – a monetary unit of Albania Yes, I know you will find a few more…

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