learn up

A colleague said something which gave me the opportunity to talk about the time one of the choirs I sing in sang part of a concert in Welsh.  I said, among other things, “We learned up several items in Welsh”. He took that at face value, but another colleague was horrified that I said “learned up”, even though she understood me perfectly.

We quite happily say brush up (on) and swot up (on), so why not learn up (on)? Google Ngrams records learn up, but it may be part of longer units such as Learn up to 16 languages with our easy and fun app, or Learn up to 10 times as fast as with any other language app. Google records companies, websites and apps named Learnup, LearnUp and Learn Up. But no-one seems to use learn up. I was hoping to be able to say to her “So there!”. You saw it here first.

There’s a lot more to be said about English phrasal verbs, but it won’t be tonight.


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