Quotidian Blog

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations."
- Winston Churchill

Today, some real book reviews, of some etextbooks (text-e-books?) that I'm leafing through.

Speak English Like an American. by Amy Gillett

Not a comparison of British English and the American variety. Actually, a guide to the kind of common idioms that ordinary grammar books don't cover. Things like:

...costs an arm and a leg
...gives me the creeps
...save the day
...no point in...
Back to the drawing board
Make up your mind
Stab in the back
Tell someone off
Make ends meet

Looks useful, if nothing else as a list of things not to say to beginner students.

Telephoning in English, by B Jean Naterop and Rod Revell

Could you teach someone how to make a business call? Are you entirely confident you could make such a call yourself?

I'm useless on the phone, but thanks to this book I can tell other people how not to be.

When Bad Grammar Happens to Good People, by Ann Batko

Did you know it's wrong to say "Neither he nor I were there" or "Each of us are mortal"? Apparently people who speak correct English say "Neither he nor I was there" and "Each of us is mortal".

I've been a native speaker of English for 33 years, but according to Mrs Batko I learned a language which doesn't exist. She also says it's also wrong to say "Everyone has their opinion" - you've got to say "Everyone has his or her opinion". Which might have been true 30 years ago, but not today.

Nevermind. Mrs Batko may be an idiot, but her book is a useful list of common variations in spoken English.

The Oxford Guide to English Usage

Which words end in "-able" and which in "-ible"? If I remember correctly, words which come from latinate languages take the "-ible" suffix and all others take "-able". Except when they don't, of course.

What's the difference between "centre" and "center"? I don't think there is one anymore, but the book might say different.

When can you omit articles before nouns in apposition? That is, when can you write "Kapitano, blogger and notorious homosexual, has better things to do", instead of "Kapitano, who is a blogger..."?

The answer the book gives, and I'm not joking, is "when you're a journalist".

How to Get Girls with Hypnosis, by Anonymous


we haven't got a bathroom anymore.

Okay, we've got a room with a bath, shower, toilet and sink, but the plumbing doesn't work - we can happily run a bath, but not drain it afterwards.

And that's why I've just washed my hair in the kitchen sink.

The Probert Encyclopedia of Slang

Bumble - Confusion (British)
(A bit of) How's your father - "sexual mischief"
Ace in the Hole - A final surprise which will guarantee success
Acid - LSD, MDMA, rum (West Indian), special police unit (Jamaican)
Adolph - vibrator
Belch - Bad beer (Australian)
Bogulate - to surf without skill (Australian)
Coconut - one dollar (American)
Dropsy - a bribe (American)
Geets - power or money (Black American)
Grub - food (British), to scrounge (American)
Hookie - a jew (British)
Joy Bang - occasional recreational drug use
Joy Pop - occasional recreational drug use, without addiction
Lumber - toothpick (American)
Mad Money - money put aside by a woman in case she is stood up or abandoned by her date (American)
Noodle - to improvise aimlessly on a musical instrument
Paul McKenna - ten pounds sterling (Rhyming)
Purple Rain - Phencyclidine
Skinny - information (American)
Star - mister or sir (Jamaican)
Throw a Wobbly - become angry
Turn Turk - convert to Islam
Wide - unscrupulous and astute (British)
Wiggy - erratic, pleasing (Black American)
Zak - money (South African)
Zizz - a short sleep

How to Sing and Speak Properly. by Alan Greene

Contains exercises on how to:
* Make the adam's apple descend in the throat without yawning
* Move the jaw up and down correctly
* Strengthen the base of the mylohyoid raphe (no, I don't know what it is)
* Strengthen the tongue vertically
...and much more.

One of those books which is either fascinating and immensely useful, or a complete waste of time. Sometime in November, I'll find out which.

Statistics for Dummies, by Deborah Rumsey

Same comment.

Tomorrow, I hurriedly put together a CD of recording from a new band. It doesn't have a name yet.

They've got five songs, based on African and Arab drum rhythms blended with flamenco-esque guitar, which should be interesting. But none have names yet.

The band formed out of the ashes of the Strict Machines, with a new singer. I can't remember her name.

The Art of Oral Sex, by Anonymous

There's a section on cunnilingus, one on deepthroating, and a discussion of the eternal question - spit or swallow? I wonder if there's any information in common with the book on singing?

Perhaps MJ would like a copy? Unless she's the author, of course.

The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations

"Practical politics consists in ignoring facts" - Henry Brooks Adams

"Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking." - Clement Atlee

"In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs." - Francis Darwin

"You can tell the ideals of a nation by its advertisements." - Norman Douglas

"what we call "Progress" is the exchange of one Nuisance for another Nuisance." - Havelock Ellis

"Hell, I never vote for anybody. I always vote against." - WC Fields

"Her voice is full of money." - F Scott Fitzgerald

"I don't think I understand people very well. I only know whether I like or dislike them." - EM Forster

"As soon as an idea is accepted it is time to reject it." - Holbrook Jackson


  1. You've neglected Canadian slang, I see.

    So I'll give you one...

    "Two-Four": A case of beer that has twenty-four bottles.

    As in, "I'm off to the beer store to pick up a Two-Four."

  2. Thank you very much for the «multicentred» lesson! Lol!
    That apposition construction is quite correct in Romanic languages and has nothing to do with journalists' liberties.
    Once again the score is:
    Languages 1 - Logics 0...
    Ciao! :-)