Variety, the spice of English

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Few people are aware that the legendary Hollywood movie producer is also a source of many ‘Goldwynisms’ like the following: ‘I’ll give you a definite maybe’, ‘I never liked you, and I always will’, ‘Include me out’, ‘A bachelor’s life is no life for a single man’ and ‘Let’s have some new clichés’. 

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Esperanto is an artificial language devised as an international medium of communication, based on roots from chief European languages. It retains the structure of these languages and has the advantage of grammatical regularity and ease of pronunciation. It was created by Ludwig L. Zamenhof, who used the pen name Dr Esperanto that gave its name to the language. The word ‘Esperanto’ means ‘one who hopes’ and is derived from Latin. Many Indians are renowned Esperantists, known for their contribution towards cultural equity across literary regions. Perhaps, some day Indian languages will also get a similar bridge, who knows?

Precise usage

Many good users of English trip up in the use of numbers. Units of measurement such as day, month, minute, mile and kilo are never plural when placed just before a noun as in sentences like ‘a two-minute silence’, ‘a four-mile race’ or ‘the two kilo cake’. While using numbers like hundred, thousand or billion, the article ‘a’ is added before as in ‘a hundred years ago’ but, for emphasis, one can say ‘he is putting in his 100 per cent’. In the use of numbers, the British would say ‘the library has about a hundred and sixty books’ while the American would say ‘the library has about a hundred sixty books’.

Intriguing words

A favourite whiner is the person who always thinks that the West is better-managed and not over-crowded. The following words are recent neologisms from the US that speak volumes. A chronically-ill patient, who uses a hospital bed for an extended period is a ‘bed blocker’. This bed blocker creates the practice of ‘hallway medicine’ in which patients remain on stretchers in hallways during all or most of their hospitals stay because there are no available rooms in wards.