• Monthly Archives: August 2023

Do Books Have a Fate? (Apropos of The Speaking Self)

August 24, 2023

Since the 2nd edition of The Speaking Self: Language Lore and English Usage appeared in print under the Springer Nature imprimatur, Y-H-B has often wondered whether his very expensive book has reached the wide audience it deserves by its sui generis character as a usage manual. The blog on which the book is based (languagelore.net) currently has over three hundred subscribers (including 292 RSS feeds), which constitutes palpable testimony of its global spread, but the typical lack of comments on its posts does not furnish any assurance as to its impact.

All the same, I remain proud of what I have accomplished in print and remain hopeful that the high price of the published book will not remain an insuperable obstacle to its assuming its rightful place among specimens of its genre.


The New All-Purpose Referencer (“in terms of”)

August 14, 2023

In contemporary English of all stripes, one constantly hears speakers using the phrase “in terms of” instead of “with regard to” (or equivalent items) whenever they wish to indicate the reference of whatever vocables precede this phrase, e.g. “We think (that) in terms of Jim we should hold off.”

To a purist like Y-H-B, such utterances seem ungrammatical, but the current norm in statu nascendi not only allows them but welcomes them. Whatever floats your boat!


Mind-Set: A Noisome Buzzword

August 6, 2023

In an interview just heard on CNN, the former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, uttered the buzzword “mind-set” at least three times in the same sentence. He did not know, one must presume, that this compound is actually a loan translation of the Latin forma mentis ‘form of mind/mentality’. The word forma is important because it is not to be translated by the English ‘set’ but by ‘form’. Nevertheless, this buzzword has established itself irrefragably in current speech and is to be heard emanating from the mouths of the most variegated speakers ad nauseam.