Words Trivia Quiz #1

How well do you know the English language? Whether or not you are a native speaker, take this quiz to find out – and enjoy a good opportunity to learn a few funny vocabulary facts at the same time.

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Of the importance of words

In 44BC Roman philosopher and political theorist Cicero wrote this verse: “Cedant arma togae, concedat laurea linguae” in an essay titled De Officiis (which can be translated as On Duties or On Obligations). The first words of this verse, Cedant arma togae, basically mean “Let arms yield to the toga”. They can be understood literally as “let military power give way to civil power” but also hold a deeper meaning “words are more powerful than weapons”. As a brilliant orator,…

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Do you know your brand history ? (True or False series #5)

Do you really know your favourite brands’ history as well as you think you do ? Test your knowledge thanks to the fifth part of the True or False series. In 1911, car dealer George Whitaker meets car racing enthusiast Samuel Rootes through common friends. Rootes also happens to be the heir of the Bamford factories, a bicycle business located in suburban London. George and Samuel make fast friends and in 1913 they decide to produce their own vehicles by turning…

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A History of English Pub Names

A pint, a packet of crisps and a cheerful owner – even the notoriously ugly carpets of local English pubs hold a special place in the hearts of the English and these grand establishments are beginning to crop up over the channel in Europe. Besides the décor and frequent large ‘English Pub’ signs to clarify, one of the biggest giveaways is their names. If you’ve visited the nation, chances are you caught a glimpse of a Royal Oak on your…

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Word of the Day #3 – Brobdingnagian

I discovered today’s Word of the Day pretty recently, two days ago to be exact. I was perusing my old dictionary in search of synonyms for “gigantic” – let’s face it, “gigantic” is so unoriginal – when it caught my attention. My first thought was “Whaaatt?!?”, quickly followed by “Wait, how do you pronounce that?” and “What the heck does that even mean?”. My obvious bewilderment was a good sign as it meant I had found the perfect candidate to…

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Comment t’appelles-tu ?

Globalisation is widely associated with the English language, the common language of the business world and social media, however despite English being the most used language online, it is still just one of over a thousand languages spoken in the world. Zimbabwe alone has sixteen official languages, so when we are to imagine the release of a new foreign brand in Zimbabwe, we can safely assume that on first sight the locals wouldn’t all pronounce it in the same way….

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Easter eggs are the best marketing tool

Do you know what an Easter egg is? Are you sure? If your answer is: egg-shaped chocolates that are sold and eaten around Easter time; then you are ri…hum…wrong! Actually, the term Easter eggs also refers to messages/animations… hidden in computer programs, websites or video games. These hidden bonuses are called Easter eggs in parallel with the custom of hiding and then hunting Easter eggs (the chocolate kind) that sometimes contain little surprises. Indeed Easter eggs are a bonus, an…

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Brand Naming in China

At the heart of any brand is a recognisable name. Good branding can turn even the most awkward of names into a mainstay, but a good name makes it infinitely easier. In China, a name is crucial. Chinese characters can have multiple meanings, adding a semantic layer which English lacks, so brand names have to be carefully selected with an eye to alternate readings. Famous e-commerce brand “Taobao” can be read to mean “digging for buried treasure,” a name that…

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5 Linguistic Facts

1. In English, the schwa is the most common phonetic sound ə –> this is known as a mid-central vowel This sound sounds like the sound someone makes when they’re trying to figure out their next lie…i.e. “uhhhhh…I didn’t do it…she did!” 2. Standard British English (The Queen’s English) is officially referred to as Received Pronunciation (RP) in Linguistics 3. RP is probably the most widely studied and most frequently described variety of spoken English in the world, yet recent…

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Word of the Day #2 – Serendipity

As the article about “Pulchritude” was well received, the Word of the Day series is continued. Today’s Word of the Day isn’t as obsolete as “pulchritude”, quite the contrary; it appeared rather recently in the English language. This word was chosen because of its exotic etymology, as it takes its roots in faraway Sri Lanka. Let’s talk about “serendipity”. The word serendipity is quite recent: it was first created in 1754, however it was not commonly used until the early…

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