Tag Archives: language


Bergerac street

L’Imparfait (‘The Imperfect’). Sounds like my kind of place.

Mevrouw T and I will be back in la belle France fairly soon. It’s high time I did something to improve my shamefully inadequate high school French.

Year after year I’ve been promising to do this; this year, I’m getting serious. But I’m finding brushing up my French isn’t all plain sailing. Apparently they’ve invented a lot of new words since last I struggled through Balzac and Flaubert at uni. Continue reading


Filed under France


The gentleman behind the car hire desk at Geneva airport had heard enough of my halting Melbourne high school French, so he asked me gently, ‘May I speak English with you?’

Not the usual ‘Do you speak English?’ but ‘May I speak English with you?’ He gave me a line I’ve used hundreds, if not thousands, of times since. At a hotel reception desk in Ystad, before getting into a taxi in Istanbul, when lost in a maze of Estonian alleyways, I now begin my chats with strangers with ‘May I speak English with you?’

Here’s why. Continue reading


Filed under Travel

2b or not 2b@hamlet #TWITTER MURDERS ENGLISH! OMG!!!

Are texting and tweeting, online chatting and emailing destroying people’s ability to write good English? Or is resistance to change in the language coming from a few pedants who still want to see a double ‘m’ and an ‘e’ on the end of ‘computer programme’?

This week I’ve been at the excellent Newington College Literature Festival, leading writing workshops for Year 5 students and telling my stories to younger children.

A lively evening panel discussion examined “Language in the Digital Age” and raised the questions above. Continue reading


Filed under Writing

McGREETINGS FROM AMERICA – have an easy breezy day!

I enjoy language, and admire those who use it in original ways.

I’ve been online, booking accommodation for an upcoming trip to the USA, and have been much entertained by the inventive alternatives to ‘enjoy!’ and ‘have a nice day’ that pepper the correspondence.

A hotel ‘Front Desk Talent member’ wins the prize for exhorting me to ‘have an easy breezy day’, but there were other worthy contributions… Continue reading


Filed under Travel