Language Note of the Week 29

Some sneaky adjectives look like they should be adverbs because they end in -ly.

“We piled our dishes DISORDERLY” is wrong.
“She passed him a cup of tea MOTHERLY” is equally wrong.

There are a few solutions here:
1) opt for ugly and clumsy phrases like:
“in a disorderly/motherly manner” or a “disorderly/motherly way”

2) search for a synonym, or paraphrase:

“We piled our dishes chaotically.”
“She passed him a cup of tea, as if she were his mother.”

3) Avoid -ly adjectives like the plague – which is of course a repetition of 2 (and impossible to do on a daily basis).

All Language Notes of the Week are available at:

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Language Note of the Week 28

How’s this for a non-informative (and real!) newspaper headline?

“Billionaire investor was keen on investing, fraud trial told”

No kidding. And avid dancers like to dance.

Avoid such repetition in your writing. Admittedly, I have never received such a banal title from a student.

This, however, is common:

“Last week I came across a thrilling new Swedish mystery novel. The novel’s story is well-written and packed with suspense. The novel’s story is not a typical mystery because there is no obvious culprit.”

Never start two sentences in a row with the same word or phrase. (Parallel structures are another matter, of course.)

Figura etymologica – i.e. when you use derivations of the same root – is also common:

“The questioning of the suspect included questions like, ‘Where were you last night?'”

This is plain ugly. This, however, is lovely and intentional: “Sing a Song of Sixpence”

My battery is dying… Time to post!

All Language Notes of the Week are available at:

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ESSE 2014 KOSICE Conference

Dear Colleagues, The 1 May 2013 deadline for Seminars and Round Tables (proposals from prospective convenors) for ESSE 2014 KOSICE Conference is approaching fast. You are invited to submit proposals for seminars and round tables on topics related to our fields of study: English Language, Literatures in English, and Cultural Studies (broadly defined). Proposals for seminars and round tables should be submitted directly to the Academic Programme Committee (APC) at The details are described below and at


Proposals for seminars on specialised topics within our field should be submitted jointly by two ESSE members, preferably from two different National Associations. The degree of international appeal will be one of the selection criteria used by the APC. Proposals will not be entertained if they come from two people in the same institution. In exceptional cases the APC may permit one of the two convenors not to be an ESSE member (e.g. because they come from outside Europe), if it is argued that their presence is especially important for the seminar. Seminar proposals must include the names, affiliations and e-mail addresses of the convenors and a 100-word description of the topic. Unlike round tables, seminars are not pre-constituted events and will therefore be included within the APC’s future call for papers, although convenors may take an active role in approaching potential participants. The seminar format is intended to encourage lively participation on the part both of speakers and of members of the audience. For this reason, papers will be orally presented in no longer than 15 minutes rather than read. Reduced versions of the papers will be circulated beforehand among participants. Further directions will follow in the call for papers. NB: proposals for individual papers should NOT be submitted at this stage. The deadline for individual papers will be the 31 January 2014.


The aim of round tables is to present topics and problems currently seen as shaping the nature of the discipline. At a round table a pre-constituted panel discusses issues of fairly general scholarly or professional interest in front of (and subsequently with) an audience. In other words, round tables are not sequences of papers but debate sessions. Proposals should include a 100-word description of the topic and the names and affiliations of at least three participants (including the convenor), who must be drawn from more than one national association. The maximum number of speakers will be five.

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Language Note of the Week 27

Some typographical niceties today:

1) Don’t use two apostrophes (‘’…’’) instead of quotation marks (“…”).

2) Make sure your quotations marks face in the right direction – i.e. that they are looking at the quoted text.
This is wrong: ”quoted text.”
This is not: “quoted text.”

3) Use the tab key to indent; do not hit the space-bar eight times.

4) Keep your spacing standardized. If you use a single space after a period, do it all the time. If you use two spaces after a period, use…

5) Put the footnote/endnote AFTER the period, not before. (Click the link below for a better visual indication of this tip.)

All Language Notes of the Week are available at:

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Language Note of the Week 26

Short and not simple this week:

instead of the half-Slovenglish “how it would be like…,” write “what it would be like to…”

NOT: “I wonder how it would be like to climb Everest.”

BUT: “I wonder WHAT it would be like to climb Everest.”

The Google test:
1) “how it would be like to” – c. 2 million hits (Slovenia’s population)
2) “what it would be like to” – c. 93 million hits (Germany and Greece’s population combined)

All Language Notes of the Week are available at:

(c) Jason Blake

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Jason Blake’s Language Tips

Jason Blake, a teacher at the English Department in Ljubljana and also a member of the Association for the Study of English, has kindly agreed to share the weekly language tips that he prepares for his students with the readers of this blog. We will post his Language Notes on a weekly basis.

You can find some of Jason’s older tips here (and for even more content, you’re welcome to explore other parts of his webpage). The first tip published on this blog is “Language Note of the Week 26”.

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Dear readers, dear members of the Slovene Association for the Study of English,

Welcome to the blog of the Slovene Association for the Study of English and its academic journal ELOPE.

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