Happy (Lunar) New Year!

Happy New Year!

No don’t worry we haven’t got lost, or kidnapped by Time Lords.

It’s Chinese New Year on the 19th. This year will be year of the sheep (or goat depending on translation). The Chinese calendar is a lunar calendar meaning that the date of the new year moves from year to year and in this case starts for the beginning of spring.


And the festival is also known as the Spring Festival (Some argue this is a more accurate translation of the name). So it’s perhaps appropriate that I found these in my garden this week. Snowdrops are a sign of spring in the UK.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington

The year of the sheep is a good one for the arts. Additionally, the character of the sheep affects the whole year; the sheep is a beneficent watchful presence but not one prone to interfering. This means it’s a time of healing and reconnecting with the basics.

What would you like to see in this regard with relation to English for Academic Purposes? More about ELTSU programmes? More about Events/Occasions of interest? More about Winchester? More about English more generally? More about Academic Writing? More language & lexis?

Leave comments here or on Facebook.



Love in the English Langauge (The Valentine’s Post)

In honour of Valentine’s Day let’s look at the language of love.

It’s been noted that many languages have more words for love than English. That like so many generalisations is perhaps both true and not true.

While there are lots of words that we tend to just translate as love. Love can be a verb, adjective and a noun (both abstract and concrete) in English so it’s a hard working word. What’s more love has been part of English as long as there has been English, (perhaps this fact accounts for some of its many applications).


Adore: (verb) means to love both romantically and not, perhaps in an idealised sense and quite a strong emotion.

I adore chocolate; I could eat it morning noon and night.

Boyfriend: (noun) a male romantic partner, possibly a lover possibly not. Not to be confused with male friends in general.

Her new boyfriend is very handsome, but always late.

Crave: (verb) means to (almost physically) need something an addict craves the object of their addition this is very strong and almost pathological.

After a weekend away for work I was craving my bed and my family.

Divine: (adjective) if you think someone is divine it means you are really into them, you think they are just about perfect, and it’s not logical.

Despite her being mean, smelly and rude; Kevin thinks Tanya is divine.

Exclusive: (adjective) if a relationship is exclusive, neither partner sees (romantically) anyone else; the opposite of an ‘open relationship’.

Tom wants to be exclusive but always falls for people who want open relationships.

Fond: To be fond of (verb expression) you can be fond of friends, family, and even pets or places. It means you have a benign well-wishing feeling towards them. It’s not as strong as some of the others, and can be used with but.

Personally, I’m fond of dogs but I can understand why people don’t like them.

Flirt: (noun/verb) if you flirt with someone you talk and act towards them in a way that might create interest. However, it might not be serious; it can be just for fun.

Was Tom flirting with Sue just now?

Girlfriend: (noun) a female romantic partner, possibly a lover possibly not. Not to be confused with female friends in general.

His new girlfriend is very elegant, but usually rude to his friends.

Hang out with: (verb expression) if you hang out with someone a lot people might think you are ‘together’.

Clive has been hanging out with Claire a lot lately, I wonder if anything is happening there?

Hit on someone: (verb expression) if you hit on someone you make a pass at them you say and do things to try and get them romantically interested in you.

Cynthia was definitely hitting on Tony last week but I don’t think he noticed.

Hallmark Holiday: (noun) a hallmark holiday is one that only exists for sales and marketing purposes. It’s only celebrated to get people to spend money on things they otherwise wouldn’t.

Valentine’s Day, Teacher’s Day and Halloween have all been accused of being hallmark holidays.

Into: to be into (verb expression) if you are into someone or something you like it, possibly a lot.

Simone is really into Frank but he’s more into football than anything else.

Just a fling: (noun expression) this is a way of dismissing the significance of a relationship.

They did hang out a bit last summer but I’m sure it was just a fling, they don’t really have much in common.


Keen on: (verb) if you are keen on someone or something you like them/it.

Sue is keen on Brian, but I’m not sure it will go anywhere.


Lover: (noun) a person who you are engaged in a physically romantic relationship with is your lover, it may or may not be a life partner.

His lover told him that the new book wasn’t worth buying.


Mope: (verb) if you mope you stay still or move slowly in a way that is sad and expresses that sadness.

Carlos has been moping about after Elaine for months, but I don’t think she likes him that way at all.


Need: (Noun/Verb) this one is very strong; if you need somebody/something you can’t do without. As a noun people might talk about needs as criteria for a partner.

Her needs are simple, he has to be handsome, rich and like talking about her.


Open Relationship: (Noun) if you are in an open relationship everyone sees other people romantically as well, and everyone is open and knows about it.

Some people find themselves falling into open relationships because they’re unsure how to talk about their relationships with partners.


Passion: (noun) if you have a passion for something you love it. It can also be used to discuss the intensity of a relationship.

Ginny and Paul shared a passion for rare books and bird watching.


Queer: (adjective) this is one of the words that some people who are interested in other people of the same gender as them use to identify themselves. It’s also lent its name to a field of critical analysis: Queer Theory.

Martha told Mike she was queer, but maybe he was hitting on her.


Romantic: (adjective) if you do something romantic you act in a way that inspires or suggests romance.

Do you really find Valentine’s Day romantic? It’s such a Hallmark Holiday.


Serious: (adjective) if a relationship is serious it is long term and stable; they might get married, buy a house and/or have children.

He’d been in love before, but this time it was serious.


Together: (preposition/adjective) if people are together then they are in a relationship.

Are Sam and Tina together? They’ve been talking in a corner all evening?


Unrequited: (adjective) an unrequited love is one that is not reciprocated or returned.

Many young men apparently harbour an unrequited love for Emma Watson one of the stars of Harry Potter, fortunately most of them realise this.


Visit (Love Visit): (noun) I can’t be 100% certain as this is an old idiom but this seems to be somewhere between a date that you go on with someone or possibly what one might refer to in the vernacular as a booty-call.

With love from: (semi-set expression) often written at the end of email/letters or in cards and on the labels of gifts.

With love from ELTSU

X – it’s easy to cheat with x and z we’ve doubled up above instead. See H & F


Yfall: (Old English – Verb phrase) a long time before Shakespeare, before even Chaucer, in Old English we would have yfalled into love (now we fall in love).  Let’s hope that this isn’t considered cheating as discussed in X & Z


Z – it’s easy to cheat with x and (slightly less so with) z we’ve doubled up above instead. See H & F

Snow in Winchester

In honour of the weather in Winchester this morning; let’s have a look at snow phrases. Keep in mind this only happens every couple of years for us.

Photo: Shan Chen

Photo: Shan Chen

Snowman: you know this one two to three balls of snow placed on top of each other (in decreasing order of size. Traditionally with sticks for arms, a carrot for a nose etc. More politically correctly this should be snowperson but some language seems to stick. See Disney’s Frozen and watch out for Olaf.

Disney's Olaf from Frozen

Disney’s Olaf from Frozen

Snowball: these are much smaller balls of snow, traditionally thrown at one another creating a snowball fight. However, snowball as a verb can be used more metaphorically. If something snowballs it gets bigger and bigger, (just as a snowball rolling down a snowy hill would).

Snow-day: this is what many school pupils may have been hoping for the last couple of weeks; a day when there is too much snow for pupils to safely get to school so the government closes the schools to keep everyone safe.

Snowflake: the individual pieces of snow ranging in size from tiny to very tiny, no two are identical in their crystalline structures. Snowflakes can be used as a comparison for uniqueness. Idiomatically a snowflake’s chance in hell is used to discuss very low chances and/or very bad odds.

Snowplough: this is the machine or device for moving snow away, sometimes attached to the front of an appropriate vehicle sometimes the whole special purpose vehicle itself. While idiomatic forming a verb through conversion means to aggressively/blithely push something through without thinking about or caring to much how others might see things. Once the Managing Director has made her mind up she’ll snowplough any objections and just do it. Another word that works similarly is to steamroller.


Smaller than the snowplough is a snow-blower this is not completely unlike a lawn mower except that it throws the snow sideways out of a funnel; causing no few arguments in suburbia.

Image from BBC

Image from BBC

Even more basic than this, and standard car equipment for six months of the year in Canada is a snow shovel, this one is powered by you, and it’s traditionally a teenager’s job around the house to shovel the front walk and the pavement (sidewalk) in front of the property. In many cities failing to clear the pavement can result in a fine for the residents and/or owner, sometimes they can even be held responsible for any injuries caused by un-cleared snow and ice.

Snow-angel: this is usually made by/with children, you find a clear patch of snow and flop backwards (at least traditionally backwards; you experiment with face first if you want to) into it with your arms and legs wide. You then move your arms in arcs keeping them straight and away from your body and head forming the image of a winged humanoid (angel) in the snow. The difficult part is standing up and walking away without disrupting the image.


Snow-blindness: can snow blind you? Really? Yes but not by getting in your eyes. (BTW: on Canadian playgrounds when I was growing up this was known as a snow job. Sneak up behind or beside someone with a big hand full of snow and rub it in their face. Now you know why we all had those glowing complexions. Snow-blindness is actually caused by light bouncing off the snow, it can come on quite quickly and it’s caused by an overexposure to light. Most sunglasses will protect you reasonably well from it, and you normally feel your eyes becoming sore and tired before you actually lose your sight. Metaphorically, if someone goes snow-blind about something they act like they can’t see because of an excess of a particular cause. As long as the boys are good scorers at Hockey the coach gets snow-blind about them being on time for practice.

Edit 17/02/15 – it seems we forgot Snowdrop (noun): a small white flower often the first to bloom in the UK, sometimes so early that there is still snow on the ground.

Photo: James Beddington

Photo: James Beddington