galangal, galingale

How do you say galangal?


I say it with the stress on the first syllable. But that’s because I first saw it written as galingale. If you know nightingale and perhaps farthingale, the stress seems pretty obvious.

But why would anyone spell it galingale? Continue reading

Pronunciation tip: bergamot

Have a nice cup of Earl Grey tea (probably made by Twinings, but your choice). Now tell me: what’s it flavoured with? Yes, bergamot, but do you know how to say bergamot? For that matter, are you sure you know how to say Twinings? (Bonus: How about Evelyn Waugh?) Here’s my latest pronunciation tip video to get you sorted right.

The sound of chont

I make audio versions of all my blog posts and put them on Patreon for all subscribers who pay $2 or more per month. But occasionally I make one free for everyone. Today’s is one of those. As a bonus, it’s the audio version of a subscribers-only blog post: chont, text version, is available only for those who subscribe for at least $1 per month. So you get to hear it for free… but not read it.

What is chont? A satisfying sound. Here is the sound of chont, with lots of chonts.

Tango Palace Coffee Company


Don’t know where you would tango, but…

Listen to the audio of this on Patreon, as always!

If you’re jonesing for a cute coffice space with a cute name and cute fixtures and everything that comes with that, including a floor that’s years overdue for being refinished (they’re redoing it this summer), a dozen low small round tables flanked by old padded chairs of varying wobbliness, and your choice of illumination from right-in-the-window to deep in the dark back – though of course there are Art Deco lamps throughout (and there’s a garden when the weather’s good enough), dance over to Tango Palace Coffee Company at Queen and Jones. It’s towards the east side of hipsterville, right next to a pretty little park. Continue reading

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This word looks like an elephant – or maybe several large birds – tumbling down a flight of stairs. It has no fewer than four k’s and five syllables. It is, as the currently popular term puts it, really extra. Oh, and if you want even more, it can also be spelled koekemakranka.

Or you can call it by its Linnaean name, gethyllis.

Such a pair, gethyllis and kukumakranka. Like some sweet little kid and a rowdy noisy bird from an animated feature. Whatever this thing is should be partly demure and partly dominating.

Which, in fact, it is. Continue reading


Have you ever been at a party where there’s someone on one side of the room holding forth volubly and vapidly, and the crowd around them gradually rarefies while it gets more and more crowded on the other side of the room? You’ve just seen an important fact in fluid dynamics. Continue reading