Category Archives: Grammar

Bring out the mops

Ratna Raman THE noun ‘moppet’ (17th century English) from the now obsolete ‘moppe’ (indicative of a baby or a rag doll) refers to an endearingly sweet child. The silver screen has also introduced us to child stars, little boys and … Continue reading

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A little mixing & we’ve an anagram

Ratna Raman FROM the Greek, ana (anew) gramma (letter), the Latin ‘anagramma’ and the French ‘anagramme’, anagram has formed part of the English language since the late 16th century. Any word whose letters can be rearranged to produce a different … Continue reading

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How hope crawled out of Pandora’s box

Ratna Raman PANDORA, one of the earliest humans created by Hephaestus, was blessed with all manner of gifts by the gods. She was also given a jar that contained all the troubles and evils that could afflict humankind. Hesiod, the … Continue reading

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Spinning out of control

Ratna Raman THE Latin words ‘disipulus’ and ‘disciplina’ evolved to form the words ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’ in middle English. A disciple is a student or a neophyte, and the word comes from old cultures of training in philosophical, spiritual and … Continue reading

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Words, some drag us real low

Ratna Raman WORDS that ‘denote’ have a singular meaning. Take ‘chowk’, for instance. It refers to a square in outline. Loyalist sentiment was responsible for the rechristening of Connaught Place’s circular inner and outer roads as Rajiv Chowk and Indira … Continue reading

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Lead from the front

Ratna Raman THE noun ‘example’ (from Latin exemplum; ‘take out’) has travelled long distances in the English language. An example refers to something characteristic of its kind, such as ‘specimen’, ‘sample’ or ‘instance’. Examples illustrate and explain by taking on … Continue reading

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Gender justice not served

Ratna Raman IN the 13th century, ‘gender’ (n, Latin) described family, species and race, while in Olde French it indicated kind, type. Gender highlighted the distinctions between male and female on a sexual basis only around the 20th century. Feminist … Continue reading

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