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Showing posts from April, 2011

Why are there so many languages?

Leading linguist Noam Chomsky poses one of the central question in this short video here.
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics (Oxford Paperback Reference)

Is it bale? Or bail? And what about bailout?

The word bailout has become closely associated with the idea of financial rescue - to bail out the banks. But it has many subtle usages - and two spellings!

1. The literal use of bail/bale is to abandon abruptly as in making an emergency exit from an aeroplane in a parachute. 
2. The literal meaning ofto bail out is to remove water from a leaky boat. 
3. It is now more common to use bail  in a figurative/metaphorical sense:
The minister has bailed on the government's housing policy (announced his opposition).
The actor bailed on the script (stopped reading his lines with any show of conviction) 
4. 'Bail out' is also used metaphorically but usually with a closer connection to the literal meaning: The pilot bailed out of his plane but not Bob has bailed out on us and gone home.
5. The noun is sometimes spelled as one word: bailout.

6. There is a dispute over the spelling of bail and bale - bail is probably used more frequently but both are allowed by most dictionaries.