Don’t you just love the English language? So many words to play with. Let’s take a look at one: lost.

This is one of those words with multiple meanings depending on how you use it.

image‘I am lost.‘ I have no idea where I am geographically is one meaning but we also say this when we mean I don’t follow your meaning or I have no idea what you’re talking about.

‘I lost.’ We might say this at the end of a competitive encounter like a game or an argument to signify that we didn’t win or that we were defeated. Or maybe after a wager or a punt on the horses to indicate we handed over our money for naught.

‘I’ve lost my keys.’ You might say this little phrase just before you utter that enduring life question I mentioned a few posts back. In that context lost means misplaced, because invariably you find them – eventually.

‘All is lost!’ This might mean I’m ruined financially or that there is no longer any hope of my plans coming to fruition.

‘Get lost!’ This is the one we use when we want someone to remove themselves from our sight.

‘I lost it!’ For those times when you lose control of yourself and say or do a few things you’ll probably regret later.

No wonder people have trouble learning English as a second language. Most of us have enough trouble learning it as our mother tongue or native language.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

Using language

IMG_0493Do you remember this guy? Yes, that’s right, he’s that teacher who insisted that you follow the grammar rules, every last one of them.

You don’t see him much these days but he’s still around.

He’s that voice you hear every time you write something, the one that insists that words have to be used in certain ways.

In writing circles he is referred to as the inner critic, and he has his uses if we want to be understood by our readers.

If he was the only critic we had to deal with, life would be more bearable.

Unfortunately, he has a host of followers in the world outside our heads. You may have encountered one or two in your travels. These are the people that like to point out every grammatical error they see, regardless of the context in which it appears.  The language has a word for them: pedants.

I say language usage depends on the context in which the words are being used. If you’re writing an academic paper or sitting for an English language exam it’s probably important to follow all the rules. If you’re writing a letter email it’s not so important. What’s important is that the message sent is clear enough that it is understood. If you use ‘are’ where the rules say you should use ‘is’ (for example, the staff are friendly) we all get the message, even if the pedants insist you should say the staff is friendly.

Here’s a little something on this topic I found, by following a link within a link on Twitter the other night, that I enjoyed watching. I hope you like it.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter