Sunday, December 17, 2017

Phrasal Verbs and Latinate Equivalents

Many phrasal verbs have latinate equivalents. The Latin equivalents are derived from Latin and tend to be more formal. Here is a list:

add up calculate
call for necessitate
call off cancel
carry on continue
fall apart disintegrate
find out discover
get away escape
get across communicate
give in yield
leave out omit
look into research
make up fabricate
pass out distribute
pick up resume
point out explain
set up arrange
take after resemble
touch on mention
turn down reject
use up exhaust

Many phrasal verbs have words such as up, down, off and on. Phrasal verbs are very common in conversation and informal writing, but latinates are preferred in formal speech and writing. The phrasal verbs in the list all consist of two words, and the latinates consist of only one.  

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Male and Female Versions of Names

Many names have male and female versions. In certain cases, the male name is more popular, but with some names, the female version is also very common. Here is a list:

Alexander Alexandra
Andrew Andrea
Brian Briana
Clement Clementine
Daniel Danielle
Edwin Edwina
Eric Erica
Fredrick Frederica
Gabriel Gabriella
George Georgia
Gerald Geraldine
Harry Harriet
Henry Henrietta
Joseph Josephine
Justin Justine
Louis Louise
Martin Martina
Michael Michelle
Nicholas Nicole
Oliver Olivia
Patrick Patricia
Paul Paula
Peter Petra
Robert Roberta
Victor Victoria

The names Fredrick, George, Henry and Joseph are more popular than the female names Frederica, Georgia, Henrietta and Josephine. However, many female names such as Gabriella and Nicole are very popular. The popularity of female and male versions of names can vary from one decade to the next.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Cognac Shrimp in White Sauce

Cognac shrimp in white sauce is a French dish which is easy to prepare. Here is the recipe:

1 shallot, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cream
6 tablespoons butter
white pepper
2 tablespoons butter
250 grams shrimp
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cognac

Simmer the shallot, white wine and lemon juice over moderate heat for 5-10 minutes.
When the mixture reduces to 2 tablespoons, add the cream.
When the first bubbles start, turn down the heat.
Add the butter one tablespoon at a time.
When the butter is fully incorporated, add the white pepper and set aside.
In another pan, melt the butter and saute the shrimp for 3-4 minutes.
Reduce the heat and season with salt.
Add the cognac and stir.
Pour the white sauce over the shrimp and serve.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

English Plurals with Vowel Mutation

Most English plurals are formed with the suffix -s or -es. However, English has seven irregular plurals which are formed with vowel mutation. Here is the list of these plurals:

foot feet
goose geese
louse lice
man men
mouse mice
tooth teeth
woman women

In the pairs foot/feet, goose/geese and tooth/teeth, the vowel mutation is the same. The pairs louse/lice and mouse/mice also exhibit the same vowel mutation as well as the pairs man/men and woman/women. In these seven plurals three vowel mutations can be observed. They are:

a --> e man/men woman/women
ou --> i  louse/lice mouse/mice
oo --> ee foot/feet goose/geese tooth/teeth

English has many examples of vowel mutation in verbs such as break/broke, give/gave and take/took. Vowel mutation is less common with nouns. However, it also occurs in seven irregular plurals.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Polysemy is the association of a word with two or more meanings. For example, the word bright has different meanings in the sentences You have a bright future, The room is bright and She's a bright student. In the first sentence bright means full of hope, in the second it means full of light and in the third it means intelligent. The word get is also a good example of polysemy. Notice the different meanings of get in the following sentences:

I can get a refund.
I hope you get well soon.
I have to get home now.
I get the idea.
The police are confident they'll get the thief.

In the first sentence get has the meaning of receive. and in the second sentence get can be replaced with become. The third sentence has the common expression get home in which get can be replaced with arrive. In the fourth sentence get can be replaced with understand and in the fifth it has the meaning of capture.

All languages have examples of polysemy. In fact, many words have more than one meaning. In English the word get has many possible meanings. The examples illustrate five.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Set Theory

Set theory is a branch of mathematical logic. Though set theory is usually applied in mathematics, the theory can also be used in other fields. The modern study of set theory was developed in the 1870s.

Set theory expresses a binary relation between an object and a set. Every object of a set is a member or an element. Sets are also objects and can belong to other sets.

A binary relation between two sets is the subset relation, which is also called set inclusion. If all the members of set A are also members of set B, then A is a subset of B. To give a more concrete example, we can say that the members of set A are puppies and the members of set B are dogs. Thus we can express the relation between the two sets by stating that the set of puppies is a subset of the set of dogs.

Numbers are common in set theory. The union of the sets X and Y is the set of all objects that are members of X, Y or both. The union of {1,2} and {2,3} is the set {1,2,3}. The intersection of the sets X and Y is the set of all objects that are members of both sets. The intersection of {1,2} and {2,3} is {2}.

A Venn diagram is a diagram that shows all the possible logical relations between different sets. The diagram usually consists of overlapping circles representing a set. The Venn diagram was conceived by John Venn around 1880. It is used to teach elementary set theory as well as illustrate simple set relationships.

Set theory is common in mathematics, but can also be applied to other areas such as computer science, linguistics and statistics. In set theory the relation between objects and sets and also between sets and other sets is clearly illustrated. Venn diagrams can be used to express all possible relations between sets.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Mate in 12

In a game of speed chess, I mated my opponent in 12 moves. He was Food of the USA, who played black. Here are the moves of the game along with my commentary:

1. d4 b6
2. e4 B7
3. Nc3 e6
4. Bd3 g6
5. Be3 Bg7

Black's decision to develop his two bishops before his knights is unusual.

6. Nf3 Ne7
7. Qd2 d5
8. Bh6 dxe
9. Bxe4 Bxh6
10. Qxh6 Bxe4

My queen prevents black from castling. Black's decision to take my bishop is a mistake because it allows my knight to take control of a key square. A better move for black is Nc6.

11. Nxe4 Nbc6

Black doesn't have time to make this move. A better move is Ng8.

12. Nf6#

Black loses quickly because he fails to protect his king. His eleventh move is a blunder because it allows my knight to deliver checkmate on f6. His tenth move is also an error because it allows my knight to advance to a key square. In this game black's inability to castle leads to his demise.

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