Monday, August 2, 2010


My blog has gone international! Check out the comment section, and you will see Chinese characters. Thanks to Google, I have been able to read a rough translation of several comments, all of which are encouraging. I wonder whether these are students of English, who prefer, reasonably enough, to comment in their native language.

If you would like to check this out for yourself, go to:

Now back to this week's blog entry:


Here's another word which causes confusion, because its use is completely different, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live.

In Britain, the usage is entirely benign. A particular use of the term with which I have been familiar for over half a century is a "pension scheme". This merely means that it is a plan or an arrangement. Brits do talk about villains "scheming", but the noun carries no such negative connotation.

In the US, the term is less common, but when it is used it carries the overtones of a scam or plot. I remember that, many years ago, I confused a colleague when I used the term to describe a perfectly innocent plan.

Common language, indeed!


  1. I think, Nigel, that you can consider those 'international' commenters to have 'spammed' you. Or perhaps you already know that and are just making a joke?

    Yes, the word 'scheme' always makes me uncomfortable. To me it sounds nefarious.

  2. Dad,
    As Susan says, those comments seem to be generic remarks posted by a computer. They are, ahem, a scheme--in the American sense. Their intent is to generate curiosity, which will prompt you to click on their links. The links will then take you to websites with ads for various scams (penile enlargement, cheap pharmaceuticals, weight-loss drugs, etc.). These ads remunerate the owner of the website by the number of eyeballs that visit the site.

    You might wish to delete them.