Fifty years ago this week, Britain got rid of its notorious system of pounds, shillings and pence: great for dividing fractions in medieval times, but not much use with computers.
Try to avoid using “Dear” at the start of a message or e-mail unless you know the person’s name. Imagine you’re actually speaking to them, face to face.
Unusually for European languages, Dutch has retained the word “Indisch” as the demonym for the former East Indies and people are always mistranslating it as “Indian”.
There are all kinds of ways of expressing times and writing them down, but the commonest formats in English aren’t the same as the usual Dutch ones.
An “alpha” or “beta” person in Dutch refers to how scientifically-minded they are. In English, it is at best reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”.
It’s not a number of years that gets celebrated in the English-speaking world. Rephrasing or explanation is needed if you don’t want readers scratching their heads.
What? No way. There’s “high tea”, a specific and very English concept. But you can’t misappropriate “high” for anything else.
The term “Great Britain” has nothing to do with delusions of grandeur. It’s just the biggest island in the group, same as Gran Canaria or Grand Cayman.
People are naturally very proud of their academic achievements and titles and want them stated in their communications. But it’s not as trivial as it might seem.