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Since 2008, I’ve posted more than 2,400 articles for free on Sesquiotica; more than a million visitors have come to read them, and more than 17,500 people have subscribed for free. They include word tasting notes, articles on grammar, serialized fiction, and my new series on coffee joints to sit and work in. I’ve also been making videos such as my pronunciation tips, which you can find here and on YouTube. But why stop at that? Continue reading

Pronunciation tip: claret, Rothschild

It’s been too long since my last pronunciation tip video. Sit down with me now with a bottle of red Bordeaux (Mouton Cadet; I’m not rich) and let’s talk about how to say claret and Rothschild.

Yeet citationality: yippie-ki-yay!

This article was originally published on The Editors’ Weekly, the blog of Editors Canada

The voting is in, and the American Dialect Society’s Slang Word of the Year is… yeet.

Yeet is not so well known to oldsters, but it is in vogue among the youth. Its popularity demonstrates a central fact of how vocabulary spreads. It also leads us to Bugs Bunny, Clark Gable, and Judith Butler. Continue reading

Odin and Thor


Listen to this coffice space review, complete with ambient background sound, for free on Patreon

The bottom of the heart of central Toronto is guarded on either side by two Norse gods so important each has a workday named after him: Odin and Thor. On the east side, on King by River Street, is Odin, the god who gave us hump day (Wednesday is Odin’s day, by way of another version of his name, Wotan). On the west side, on Bathurst at Niagara – two blocks south of King – is Thor, the god who gave us Thursday.

Each god is represented by an eponymous coffice space. Continue reading

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I was just flipping through my paperback abridgement of Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, as one does on a leisurely Sunday evening, and I happened on this stub of a word: sprunt.

Well, now. What could it was? It starts with the spr that we see in spring and sprinkle and spruce and sprain and sprawl, and it ends with the unt that we see in hunt and shunt and bunt and punt and runt. The word as a whole looks like an irregular past participle of sprint – as in I sprint, I sprant, I have sprunt. There are several ways it could go. Or, of course, the meaning could be entirely unrelated to what it sounds like it means, although with two sound clusters that have vivid associations, that’s not so likely; even if it started out unrelated, the sense would tend to drift towards what people think it should mean. Continue reading


We use words to spin many a yarn. But a word, in turn, spins yarns around it: all the uses and places and users and senses it’s had, wound or twisted or balled up and ready to be ravelled for revelry or pulled piecemeal for prose. Even the way it’s balled up can be different from time to time, not always telling a true tale of where it came from, and the same word for the same meaning and function can have different shapes over time, some plain for function, some fancy for curiosity or to show ingenuity and splendour. A word is in this way a yarringle, and yarringle is such a word. Continue reading



Isn’t it pretty? …Pretty busy

Listen to this coffice space review, complete with live ambient audio in stereo, for free on Patreon

Dineen is an easy walk from where I live. It’s right at the corner of Temperance and Yonge, occupying a site that used to have an optical dispenser whereat I bought several pairs of spectacles. I think right now I’m sitting almost exactly where I first saw the frames of the pair I’m wearing right now. (I have newer glasses, but I use the older, weaker ones for close-up work.)

I seldom work in Dineen. Continue reading