Language in the news: Jane Austen on the £10 note!

Jane Austen banknote. Photograph: Bank of England.

Jane Austen banknote. Photograph: Bank of England.

I am so excited about the news that Jane Austen is going to be on the £10 note! Having a woman AND an author is just fantastic! I’m a big fan of Austen’s works so was really pleased to hear this. I don’t really pay much attention to notes usually, however I came across a Scottish £5 note when I lived in Scotland which has Robert Burns on one side a lovely picture of a field mouse on the other and I thought it was too pretty to spend. I think it’d be nice if more notes had pleasant pictures to brighten up your day like this one:

Scottish £5 note mouse

Scottish £5 note mouse


From graduand to graduate

It was my boyfriend’s graduation yesterday. We kept hearing the word ‘graduand’ so I looked up what the difference was between that and graduate. Apparently a graduand is someone who is eligible to graduate but hasn’t yet, while a graduate is someone who has graduated.

Well, I told him this and he suggested that this makes sense because in maths in an integral the expression to be integrated is called the integrand (apparently) so it makes sense that someone going to be graduated is a graduand. The same thing is true for when you’re dividing one number by another, the number to be divided is the dividend (although spelt with a different ending). Well I looked this up and yep it comes from how Latin denotes things that are going to happen but have not yet happened yet basically (Latin gerundive, for anyone wanting to look up a less vague description!). The spelling of ‘dividend’ is unusual but it seems that it just evolved like this from its unusual stem words.

I love that my boyfriend pointed this pattern out as I probably wouldn’t have found out more otherwise.

Anyway found this out just in time to know that I am still currently a graduand, but will be a graduate tomorrow!


Breakfast words from a book I was given: The Horologicon

I saw my little cousin on the weekend (okay, he isn’t that little any more, he’s at university, but he’ll always kinda be my little cousin), and he gave me a (late) Christmas present. It’s awesome: it’s The Horologicon by Mark Forsyth. A great choice of present for me and something I wouldn’t have bought for myself.

The book gives you unusual words on the theme of the time of day that you might use them. I’ve been a little bit like a ten year old child with a book of facts telling everyone about a word I’ve just learnt whether they care or not. I’m pretty sure I’m boring people, but they’re too polite to say. But, unlike them if anyone reading doesn’t want to join in my excitement of learning unusual words, stop reading now.

I LOVE breakfast and seeing as it’s the morning  I felt a couple of breakfasty words were in order:

jenticulate, verb: a (now obsolete) way of saying to eat your breakfast. As an aside, I usually say ‘breakfasting’ which the OED tells me can be used as a noun (not a verb as I’m using it).

skeuomorph, noun: a technical limitation that’s deliberately imitated, such as the tiny too-small-to-use handles on tea cups. The other example given was the fake click on a digital camera. I’ve been trying to think of others, but the only other example I can think of are triglyphs (a stone architectural decoration thought to originate from when wooden beams would have been used), but I’m sure there are loads more.

pingle, verb: (Northern dialect) to pick and nibble at your food without appetite. Seems as though it’s related to meaning ‘toil’ or ‘hard work’.

opsony (plural = opsonia), noun: (obsolete) any food eaten with bread. I’m not sure sure how you might use this is a sentence? “The opsonia available are salad, cheese and picked onions”?

I won’t list more in case I get carried away! The book could do with telling you more about the etymology of the words it mentions as it’s a bit sparse on that, but it’s got some interesting words, the cover is lovely and it’s the perfect size to just pick up and dip into. I’d consider buying his previous book The Etymologicon. I don’t own many books on language other than heavy textbooks so I might check out more in this area.