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James Mcelvenny

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Up-goer Five

Up-goer Five

January 29, 2013 1 Comment

Big words and jargon confound and conceal - it's a common claim. James McElvenny looks at the recent Up-goer Five craze of explaining complex topics using only the 1,000 most common words.

‘Kind of butthole’

‘Kind of butthole’

April 27, 2012 2 Comments

James McElvenny writes… I always thought of Archie as a nice boy, but now I see that he is in fact a very rude young man, possibly due to the strain of being a teenager for the last seventy years or so. But even early on in his perpetual adolescence, back in 1947, he used […]

‘A more exacting censorship’

‘A more exacting censorship’

December 19, 2011

James McElvenny writes… We’re not the ones to blame for the moral decline that characterises our times, where the pre-show program for kids’ TV stars a cussin’ Communications Minister, no less. It’s our grandparents and great grandparents who are at fault. If only they’d listened to the advice of Mr S H Smith, Director of […]

Beware of scientists bearing expertise

November 4, 2011 9 Comments

James McElvenny writes… The title of this post is probably a bit misleading. This is not an anti-science rant as such. My title is simply intended to evoke Beware of speech experts bearing science, a recent post from Aidan Wilson here on this blog that could considered an example of the ‘Respect mah authoritah!’ genre […]

Culturomics and Google Books

Culturomics and Google Books

February 18, 2011 4 Comments

James McElvenny writes: As many of Fully (sic)’s readers will be aware, there’s been quite a bit of buzz lately about a project led by Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel at Harvard University that bills itself as the beginning of ‘culturomics’, a new paradigm for studying cultural trends using large amounts of textual data. […]

What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

October 7, 2010

James McElvenny writes: A name that’s been on my lips quite a bit lately is Deutsche Bahn, the name of the German train service. It generally gets muttered under my breath – along with some lovely English words that can surely be reconstructed for proto-Germanic – because my train is delayed. With the ongoing celebrations […]

What’s prescriptivism all about, anyway?

September 5, 2010 8 Comments

James McElvenny writes: The world of blogging – as I’m sure Fully (sic)’s readers have already noticed – consists largely of rants and counter-rants. A favourite counter-rant for a modern, scientific and progressive-minded blog like this one is to have a go at linguistic prescriptivists, those who work themselves up into a rage because other […]

Handys

August 23, 2010 19 Comments

James McElvenny writes: In my role as Fully (sic)’s (temporary) Europe correspondent, I’ve had the opportunity to observe some pretty strange uses of my native language, English, on the Continent. In most parts of the world today English has established itself as the default lingua franca, the language that people who don’t share a native […]

Aussier-than-thou expats at the ballot box

Aussier-than-thou expats at the ballot box

August 19, 2010 9 Comments

James McElvenny writes:...As I listened to the various conversations going on around me I realised that the embassy was staffed exclusively by Paul Hogan and Steve Irwin's mates.

Linguistic border security

August 16, 2010 1 Comment

James McElvenny writes:...If the queue-jumping terrorist refugee says sibboleth, in his distinctive Ephraimite accent, the soldier knows he's a refugee and kills him