Posts

Where does the word 'posh' come from?

Image
Not from the accommodation arrangements on ships to India as is commonly claimed. The story goes that the more well-to-do passengers on ships travelling between England and India used to have POSH written against their bookings, standing for 'Port Out, Starboard Home' (indicating the more desirable cabins, on the shady side of the ship). Unfortunately, this story did not make its appearance until the 1930s, by which time the term had already been in use for some twenty years. Added to this, the word does not appear to have been recorded in the form 'P.O.S.H.', which would be expected if it had started life as an abbreviation. ( Source ) A more likely source is the 1890s slang word for a dandy, but there is no agreement about origin.

Most quoted lines from films?

Image
A partial shortlist below: Humphrey Bogart   Casablanca (1942) "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" Renee Zellweger   Jerry Maguire (1996) "You had me at hello" Clarke Gable   Gone with the Wind (1939) "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" Arnold Schwarzenegger   Terminator II (1992) "Hasta la vista, baby" Gloria Swanson   Sunset Boulevard (1950) "I'm ready for my close-up" But what makes these lines so memorable? Researchers at Cornell University think they have 'created a computer program to break down the formula behind some of cinema's most enduring lines'.  Hasn't this 'formula' alway been the elusive holy grail for Hollywood? Disney hired top screenwriters for their epic John Carter - only to end up with one of the most expensive flops of all time. In contrast Casablanca was famously chaotic in its development, with actors going into celebrated

What happened to the Mary Celeste?

The words Mary Celeste have a special resonance in English. Here is a brief summary of what we know about the infamous 'ghost ship'. Related teaching resources & learning activities here .

How many French words are there in English?

Image
Use coupon code CQDWKF0 to download English FAQ Teaching Pack  for only £1.99 Crossword of French words in English Merriam-Webster's French-English Translation Dictionary, Kindle Edition Larousse Student Dictionary French-English/English-French 

Why are bilinguals 'smarter'?

Image
Because they exercise their brains more - at least according to a recent New York Times article: It forces the brain to resolve internal conflict, giving the mind a workout that strengthens its cognitive muscles. Full article Incidentally, in British English 'smarter' usually refers to personal appearance rather than intelligence. .

What is Liar's Poker?

Image
Michael Lewis Liar's Poker opens with the description of a famous wager made on a Wall Street trading floor in 1987. The CEO of the (soon to be bankrupt Salomon Brothers approached his star trader with an outlandish challege, 'One hand, one million dollars, no tears'. The 'hand' or game he was referring to was 'liar's poker (aka 'cheat' or 'spoof'in the UK). It involved no playing cards but a combination of statistical calculation and bluffing (convincing your opponent of a falsehood). Players hold random dollar bills with close attention to their own bill serial number. The objective of the game is to bluff the opponents into believing that your bid does not exceed the combined sum of all of the serial numbers... The game requires great mathematical skill because the probability calculations are extremely complex. But even more essentials is a 'poker face', the ability to lie convincingly. if one player bids three 4s, he