Anglické jazykové okienko

Anglické jazykové okienko

Andy's Wordshop

This week's question is: Why do you drive on the left-hand side of the road in Britain? I should point out straightaway that it's not only in Britain, but also in India and Australia (former British colonies), and in Japan. Like the UK, Japan is made up of islands, so the people have been traditionally isolated from outside influences, and historically there were knights in Britain and samurai in Japan. They rode on horseback and fought each other with long swords or lances, which they carried in their right hands, so to hit each other they had to pass by on the left, and this standard persisted when horses were replaced by cars. People in other countries preferred to use their right hand to shift gear in the car, so they sat on the left and started driving on the right. Please send questions about English (language) habits to ocelvychodu@sk.uss.com, and I will choose one to answer each week.

Tricky Words in this week's OVI

Interest. This modern English noun was once part of a normal Latin verb meaning "it makes a difference" or "it matters", i.e. "záleží". The first idea of what mattered to people was property and money, and to have an interest in something means to have a share or a stake in a project, some business or a company. Later the meaning widened to being concerned with something not just for money, but for pleasure, curiosity, entertainment, or altruism, helping other people. In this sense we can talk about our hobbies and interests. This gives the difference between "disinterested" (having no personal stake in a matter - "nezaujatý") and "uninterested" (ignoring a matter - "nemá záujem" ). The other meaning of interest (úrok, úroky) means the difference between the amount of money you can get as a loan, and the (higher) amount you have to pay back. My wife suggested I should deal with this interesting word in today's column.

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