Archive for December, 2009

Language never ceases to amaze

December 20, 2009

I was walking past a branch of a well-known supermarket chain yesterday, and saw this sign (not replicated word for word) “By the year XXXX, none of our packaging needs go to landfill”. Maybe I misread it, will check again next time I’m passing. But the fact remains: why does it have to be “none of our packaging need go to landfill”, while “none of our packaging needs to go to landfill” is fine? Is the first one a subjunctive? New Year’s Resolution must be to investigate.

Why does “to sanction” mean “to approve”, while  “to impose sanctions” is to penalise by restrictions? Is any reason needed or do we just need to resign ourselves?

Why has the phrase “that begs the question”, which used to mean “that evades the question” suddenly come to mean “that calls for/raises the question” within a few short years?

Yours enriched but confused by linguistic twists, Helen