Tag Archives: competition

Linguistic Spy nominated by MacMillan Love English Awards 2014

Macmillan Love English Awards 2014 blog

Dear readers,

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone who has been reading / following / sharing this blog. It means the world to me!

Second… I never thought I’d make it, but surprisingly my blog was chosen as one of 35 nominees by MacMillan Love English Awards 2014 and the voting is now open! I am particularly flattered by being together with The Economist’s wonderful Prospero blog – perhaps I’ll vote for them!

You can vote for the Linguistic Spy on this page (just scroll down until you see the list).

Many thanks in advance and have a great year!


P.S. I am now back from my snowy motherland and I am looking forward to updating this blog as often as I can with lots of quirky words and phrases!


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Macmillan Love English Awards 2014

english learning blogs awards

Photo credit: MacMillan

Dear readers,

If you have been enjoying my blog, you can nominate it for Love English Awards 2014, organised by Macmillan Dictionary.


Thanks for your support,

Linguistic Spy


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Fair-weather runners (and friends)

fair-weather runner meaning usage

Photo credit: fb.com/lifeinadayofarunner

I have to admit that every spring as I see more and more people running I decide to take up running myself. Now that I live close to the Downs, which is a relatively large and flat (which is uncommon in the hilly Bristol) green area, there are even more people out running and I am even more tempted. It’s not that I cannot make myself exercise – I do manage to do yoga at home fairly regularly, but with running it’s a different story.

Since I only run sporadically every run is a challenge, and also my back hurts if I run on tarmac, so I have to run on the grass, which – you’ve guessed – is wet about 70% of the time. So I end up running only on glorious sunny days, and they are few and far between. And then the autumn comes and I pretty much shelve all my running plans. That said, I do love the idea of running and determination that comes with it and I admire those who do it on a regular basis.

My only consolation is that yesterday I heard the word which describes me perfectly – ‘a fair-weather runner‘!

Here’re are a few examples:

– Recently, I seem to have been a bit of a fair-weather runner. Do you know that feeling? You look out of the window at the dark skies and the rain, and decide that you could just as well go running tomorrow, when it might be nicer. If, like me, you live in England, you’ll already have spotted the problem here. In the last year, the chances of tomorrow being nicer have been pretty low (mattgetsrunning.com).

– I am a Fair Weather Runner. I am going to let you all in on a little secret. I am not a hardcore runner. I would like to say I am, I really do try to be (runforfun-stephanie.blogspot.com).

P.S. There’s also an expression ‘a fair-weather friend‘, i.e. someone who only wants to be your friend when things are going well for you (MacMillan Dictionary).

Some examples of this phrase:

– Britain is an all-weather, not a fair-weather, friend to Afghanistan (The Guardian)

– But he was no fair weather friend. He was loyal and generous to his family and his friends (The Guardian).

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Updates on the competition


Photo credit: toptentopten.com

Dear readers,

as you’ve probably noticed I entered the competition of language learning blogs. You can support my entry (if you feel like it, of course) by voting on this page. I’m the 6th from the bottom.

Many thanks!

P.S. In the meantime I’m hunting for more new and exciting expressions and trying to cope with the workload. Stay tuned!

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Why bother and learn a foreign language?

If this blog strikes you as that of an obsessive language learner, you’re actually right. I probably wouldn’t have written this post had it not been for the Inspire Language Learning Competition (and I quite like the idea of having a few more readers), but I do sometimes wonder (and I’m sure people who know me also do) how I ended up like this.

I can spend hours with books, textbooks, magazines, dictionaries, notebooks, films and websites in or about different languages, occasionally emerging with a giggle only to notify whoever is present of a newly discovered word, phrase, a remarkable quote or a mind-boggling difference in grammatical structures.

To a normal person the reasons for such an obsession might not be immediately obvious. Most rational human beings would learn a language to get a promotion, to go travelling or be able to talk to their partner in his/her mother tongue. While some of these reasons apply to me, there is a bit more to it.

Even though English has pretty much become my career – I have been working as a translator (and having a bit of a love-hate relationship with the job) for over 6 years now – the only thing I can be certain about is that there’s still a great deal to learn. As to travelling, it is a huge advantage to be able to speak the language of the country you’ve wandered into, but even this does not guarantee you a smooth journey. Thinking of an example closer to home – how are you supposed to know that in the UK it’s perfectly normal to pay with a card in a supermarket, but in a pub you would be much better off paying cash (even if they have the card machine)? Knowing the culture (and gosh there’s a lot to know) takes you to the next level.

So, what’s the most exciting thing about learning a language?

I think that speaking a foreign language gives you a chance to be a new you, to reinvent yourself. It’s a bit like trying on new clothes, only much cooler. Even though the jury’s still out on whether the language we speak determines how we think or the other way round, I am pretty sure there’s something to both of these suggestions. When speaking English I become very apologetic, unnecessarily embarrassed (don’t say it’s just me!) and occasionally attempt a play on words or a pun, because that’s what the English do. Talking to Frenchmen I subconsciously mimic their inimitable facial expressions and become easily agitated about the things I normally wouldn’t be. German…. I haven’t actually spoken German for a long time, but it has this rhythm and melody about it that I find very appealing. Oh, and the composite German words are one of my biggest joys! Russian is the language which I perhaps feel most at ease with, for obvious reasons. I wouldn’t dare mention Spanish, it’s early days. But initially it didn’t really appeal to me because my temperament is hugely different from that of even the shyest and quietest Spanish person, so I’ll be learning it for this very reason – to imagine what it’s like to be a loud Spanish woman!

Learning a new language is a bit like peering through most weird looking glass and finding your way around a new place with strange rules and unfamiliar landscape. It is also a bit like putting together a puzzle of one billion pieces and knowing you’ll probably never get it right, but doing it just for the hell of it. Learning a new language can be a lot of different things and you never know what’s in store for you, so go for it!

(The infographic below is quite informative. It is also the requirement for taking part in the competition!)

inspire language learning

Learn English with Kaplan

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