Tricky Words in this week's OVI
Host and guest. It's time for a reprise of this issue, which I last looked at in 2005. "Host" (say /houst) is a good example of how to learn an English word by always remembering that it means the
exact opposite of what it looks like in Slovak, because it doesn't mean "hosť" but "hostiteľ".
The place of business which is run by a host is a hostel (lower standard of accommodation) or a hotel (higher standard). The word hospital is based on the Latin idea of a place for looking after
visitors, then taking care of guests with problems, then treating patients with illnesses. Other meanings of host are "army" or "crowd", but also the wafer you get on your tongue during communion
at mass in church.
Ironically "guest" (say /gest/) is historically linked with the Slovak "hosť" through the German word "Gast", and this is an example of the same word beginning with either "g" or "h" depending on
which language we're using. So "guest" means "hosť", and "host" means the opposite.
Championship or championships? This question came up because of the posters now advertizing the IIHF World Ice-hockey Championship. My initial reaction was "It should be championships", but in fact
this is not a "right or wrong" issue, because the two forms have slightly different meanings, which are also reflected in the Slovak words "majstrovstvo/á".
Championship means the position or status of being a champion, so the World Championship is the ultimate aim of the teams in the competition, the status they want to achieve. But the competition is
a tournament consisting of dozens of matches, each of which produces a winning team, a champion, and this becomes a sequence of championships, and this form can then be used to mean the whole
competition or tournament.
Please send questions about English language habits to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will choose one to answer each week.
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