Mince Pies

This morning a friend and I finished up the last of the mince pies I was given at Christmas. Here’s a picture of the very same prior to their consumption with a rather nice cup of instant coffee.

mince pies

Mince pies are shortcrust or puff pastry filled with a minced mixture of dried fruits, sugar, spices and brandy. Although, this rich and sticky mixture of fruit contains no meat it is called mince meat – and jars of ready-made mince pie filling sold in shop is labelled mincemeat. Mince pies have been eaten as part of a traditional Christmas in Great Britain and Ireland since the 16th century.

Here’s a link to a delicious, easy to make recipe, if you’d like to try making your own mince pies. I though recommend you serve them hot with cream rather than the brandy butter described.

Hanged or Hung

anglik englishman

One of my students asked me yesterday why the following sentence was marked as wrong by her high school teacher.

‘The last woman to be hung for murder in England was Ruth Ellis in 1955’.

In short: my reply was that the correct word should be ‘hanged’ and not ‘hung’.

In English objects, like pictures or coats, can be hung, but people are always hanged.

Knock Knock Jokes

‘Knock knock’ jokes are probably one of the most loved of jokes in English-speaking countries. Here are three of our personal favourites:

lettuce joke

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Lettuce who?
Lettuce in it’s cold out here.

hobbit joke

Knock Knock
Who’s There?
Hobbits who?
Hobbits going out for a drink later.

ketchup joke

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Ketchup who?
Catch up with me and I’ll tell you!

Christmas Crackers

Christmas crackers are an important part of Christmas celebrations in many English-speaking countries, especially in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in coloured paper with a gift, a crown-like paper hat, and a motto or joke on a small piece of paper inside the central chamber. One person pulling one end of the cracker, another person the other end. When the cracker splits a snapping sound, similar to the sound produced by a cap gun, can be heard. This is due to the presence of a card strip impregnated with a special chemical inside the cracker. Christmas crackers are commonly pulled at the Christmas dinner table. The joke or riddle is told and the hat worn during the meal. The tradition of pulling crackers at Christmas dates back to at least the mid 19th century.

Lay or Lie

Lay or Lie

anglik englishman

Many people get confused over whether to use the words ‘lay’ or ‘lie’ in English.

Here’s our very brief guide.

Basically, lay means ‘to put something down’. Whereas, lie means to ‘recline’ or ‘to be in or put yourself into a flat position’.

Lay must have an object — something being laid. While lie cannot have an object.

For example, you might lay a plate on the table before eating. But when you feel tired, you lie down. You can’t lie a plate anywhere, and you can’t lay down when you want to go to sleep.

Lay is a regular verb. Lie is an irregular verb.

I hope this explanation about the difference between the words lay and lie helps in some small way.

Oh, and remember: lie can also mean ‘say something which is not true’.

As ever if you have any questions or comments to make on today’s language related point please make contact!

The First King of England

Here’s a question sent in by a recent visitor to the site: “who was the first king of England?”. The answer to this question is, however, not as simple as it might appear. Some historians will say it was King Alfred, others Cnut the Great, and still others Henry II. Here’s my answer.

first king of England

Athelstan (c.894 – 939 AD), the son of Edward the Elder and grandson of Alfred the Great, was the first king to rule all of England. It was Athelstan who first united the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria with his kingdom Wessex to create a united English kingdom. During his lifetime Athelstan was usually referred to as ‘King of the English’ (rex Anglorum), and on occasion as ‘King of all Britain’ (rex totius Britanniae). Althelstan reigned from 925 to his death at the age of 45 in 939.

However, to muddy the waters, it should be noted that Athelstan’s grandfather, Alfred the Great, was the first to be crowned ‘King of the English’, but, his kingdom did not include all of present-day England.

We’ll look at the equally contentious answer to the question ‘who was the first Queen of England?’ at a later date!

Cheddar Cheese

cheddar cheese

Today’s culture spot is dedicated to that most tasty of cheeses, Cheddar Cheese!

The village of Cheddar in Somerset, c.1900. Cheddar cheese is still produced in Cheddar to this very day.

Some things you may not know about Cheddar Cheese:
– Cheddar cheese is named after the village of the same name in England where this most delicious of cheeses has been produced since at least the 12th century.
– Traditionally the cheese was matured in the many caves to be found in the village of Cheddar in Somerset, south-west England.
– A good quality strong Cheddar needs to be matured for at least 12 months.
– It is the most popular type of cheese in the UK, Australia, and Canada; and is the second-most-popular cheese in the US, behind Mozzarella.

cheddar cheese
An advertisement from an American magazine published in 1954 for Borden’s Cheddar Cheese.

Offsite link: Cheddar Cheese made in Cheddar in Somerset.

Disheveled / Dishevelled


My word of the day is:

Disheveled / dishevelled

Dishevelled is an adjective meaning in disarray, unkempt or disorderly.

If you describe someone’s hair or appearance as dishevelled, you mean that it is untidy.

Synonyms of the word dishevelled include: disarranged, disordered, messy, scruffy, untidy, unkempt.

Example of the word dishevelled in use in a sentence:

“His appearance was dishevelled and he was wearing light-coloured clothing, possibly beige.”

Click here to listen the word dishevelled being spoken by a native speaker of English from the south-west of England.

Note: In American English the word is generally spelled disheveled. Whereas, in British English the more usual spelling is dishevelled.

Come back soon to discover another beautiful English word.


Foreign language Word of the Day

The word ‘anglik’ is Polish for ‘Englishman’.

anglik englishman

On a related subject simply complete the form below to make contact with the anglik website.