What this blog is for and about

I also offer personally-tailored, individualized English conversation practice (including etiquette) and coaching in writing techniques. Finally, I edit texts such as magazines, business proposals, memorandums, emails so they are presented in English which does not embarrass you or your organization. For further details, please mail me at: language.etiquette@gmail.com

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07 February 2012

A serious note to start with

All language is a set of conventions for the evocation of intended sense: that is a way of saying that languages are defined as much by habits as by rules. Some are more like that than others. English is one of the least rule-bound languages, and certainly has fewer rules than Russian. This is both an opportunity and a problem. You can say what you want to say in your own personal way, which is often a benefit as the Russian way of (mis-)using English can be very expressive. It can also be a problem as in order to speak English well (and Russian is similar), you have to understand a lot about the culture of the Speaking-speaking world. This blog will try to help make Russians aware of some of the more common assumptions on which so much Speaking language, and so many Speaking jokes, are based.
     Here is one to start with. Most Russians with a reasonable knowledge of Speaking understand the word “to nudge” (giving a gentle touch to someone as a prompt for action or speech). They also know the word “to wink” (briefly closing the lids of one eye). But how many know what almost all British people over the age of twenty-five understand by the phrase: “Nudge, nudge; wink, wink!”
     Clue: “A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat.”
     Got that? If not, then you ought to consider following this blog.