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In 1915, the British lock millionaire Cecil Chubb bought his wife Stonehenge. She didn’t like it, so in 1918 he gave it to the nation.

Pablo Picasso created some of his greatest works while wearing nothing but an apron and his favourite sandals.

Abraham Lincoln had a dog called Fido who was also murdered.

Harry Houdini’s real name was actually Erik Weisz.

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz, the 63 letter German word meaning ‘a law on the delegation of supervising the labelling of beef’, is to be removed from the dictionary because it was not used often enough. Up until now, it was the longest word in the language. The 36 letter word Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung, meaning ‘motor-vehicle liability insurance’ will probably take over first place.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Hardcore English Grammar (iv)


The following collection of grammatical errors are fine examples of a number of complex and indeed very complex mistakes in English grammar. The corrections are based on Swan’s Practical English Usage (2005).

- PREPARATORY IT
“In this theory is explained how it is possible that these languages are still spoken and very different from each other.” = In this theory it is explained how it is possible that these languages are still spoken and very different from each other.
(446) & (178.2) Wrong ellipsis. Preparatory it as (provisional) subject; it at the beginning of the clause, the (finite) clause as subject at the end.

- PROVISIONAL THERE
“At first the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons lived together in a fairly friendly way so there were borrowed a lot of words from Scandinavian.” = At first the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons lived together in a fairly friendly way so a lot of words were borrowed from Scandinavian.
(587) Provisional or introductory there is only used as subject to say something exists somewhere; it is mainly used with lexical be, but never in the passive.

- CONDITIONAL IF
If we play tennis, I am sure I would win.” = If we play tennis, I am sure I will win.
(256-263) First conditional – to describe an event likely to happen now or in the future: if + present tense, will + infinitive.

“Many problems that married couples face could end if they would reinstate a ‘dating attitude’ in their relationships.” = Many problems that married couples face could end if they reinstated a ‘dating attitude’ in their relationships.
(256-263) Second conditional – to describe non reality in the present or future: if + past tense, could/would + infinitive.

“I realise that if I would have had these children under my wings for a longer period of time, I would have known who is fast and who is slow.” = I realise that if I had had these children under my wings for a longer period of time, I would have known who is fast and who is slow.
(256-263) Third conditional – to describe a past situation that did not happen: if + past perfect tense, would have + past participle; no would in the main clause.

See other: Notes On English Grammar

Political Opinions


Why do some opinions matter less than others in politics?

1.1. Fact:
One person is better informed about a certain subject than another.
1.2. Fact:
One person is (because of, for instance, intelligence, education, training, experience, physical build, age, sex, psychological health, et cetera) better suited for one certain activity than another.

2.1.A. Fact:
Every activity is like a definable area of work or knowledge.
2.1.B. E.g. Fact:
For example: to kick a door one needs to know how to kick a door to some extent; to play chess one needs to know how to play chess to some extent; to practice carpentry one needs to know how to shape wood to some extent.
2.2. Fact:
A specific area of work or knowledge is a domain of expertise, i.e. something for which one person can be better suited than another.
2.3. Conclusion:
An activity is therefore a domain of expertise.

3.1. Fact:
To practice politics is to practice an activity.
3.2.A. Conclusion:
The practice of politics is therefore a specific area of work and knowledge.
3.2.B. Conclusion:
Politics is therefore a domain of expertise.

4.1.A. Fact:
Definition: ‘α is better argued than β’ means ‘α is (more) grounded in reality than β’.
4.1.B. Fact:
Definition: ‘α is (more) grounded in reality than β’ means ‘α is based on an empirical truth, as opposed to β’.
4.1.C. Fact:
Definition: ‘α is based on an empirical truth, as opposed to β’ means ‘α is based on one or more facts, as opposed to β’.
4.2. Conclusion:
That is why ‘α is better argued than β’ means ‘α is closer to that which is true, as opposed to β’.

5.1. Fact:
There are several domains of expertise.
5.2. Fact:
There are several different opinions within any domain of expertise.
5.3. Fact:
One opinion is ‘better argued’ than another.
5.4. Fact:
A prerequisite for having a domain of expertise is that opinions which are ‘better argued’ are more relevant within the domain than others (i.e. matter more; i.e. worth contemplating and talking about).

6.1.A. E.g. Fact:
Let us suppose, person γ knows virtually nothing of the Inuktitut language (an Inuit language which belongs to the Eskimo-Aleut language family, spoken in mainly in northern Canada).
6.1.B. E.g. Fact:
Person γ can claim the Inuktitut language is not a polysynthetic language. Person γ does not believe in polysynthesis, senses it does not feel right, that it sounds wrong, it does not resonate within him, person γ is not a fan.
6.1.C. E.g. Question:
What does this mean for the way we study the Inuktitut language?
6.1.D. E.g. Answer:
Well, it does not. Person γ does not know anything about the Inuktitut language. The opinion of person γ is ‘less well argued’ as that of others i.e. ‘is closer to that which is true, as opposed to other opinions’. We know this to be the case, because it can be empirically proven that the Inuktitut language is in fact a polysynthetic language.
6.2. E.g. Conclusion:
Person γ therefore has an opinion that is not worth contemplating.

7.1.A. E.g. Fact:
Let us further suppose, person γ knows virtually nothing about biology.
7.1.B. E.g. Fact:
Person γ can claim evolution is a hoax. Person γ does not believe in evolution, senses it does not feel right, that it sounds wrong, it does not resonate within him, person γ is not a fan.
7.1.C. E.g. Question:
What does this mean for the way we study the evolution?
7.1.D. E.g. Answer:
Well, it does not. Person γ does not know anything about evolution. The opinion of person γ is ‘less well argued’ as that of others i.e. ‘is closer to that which is true, as opposed to other opinions’. We know this to be the case, because it can be empirically proven that the evolution is not merely a hypothesis but a proven theory.
7.2. E.g. Conclusion:
Person γ therefore has an opinion that is not worth contemplating.

8.1. Fact:
In politics, there are – like in any other domain of expertise – opinions that are ‘less well argued’ than others, i.e. ‘is closer to that which is true, as opposed to other opinions’.
8.2. Conclusion:
There are therefore opinions in politics that matter less than others.

The Generosity of the Sufferer


‘”How odd,” said Mary, “that they should send two notes. Well, if Mr Harding becomes fashionable, the world is going to change.”

Her brother understood immediately the nature and intention of the peace-offering; but it was not so easy for him to behave well in the matter, as it was for Mr Harding. It is much less difficult for the sufferer to be generous than for the oppressor.’

- Trollope. A. 1855. The Warden London, Great Britain: Longmans, Green, and Co. p. 57-58