4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 321 Articles

The Horologicon ("book of hours") is a reference book. Its author, Mark Forsyth (who writes the Inky Fool blog), says so. But it is a very unusual reference book — the kind you could read from cover to cover in an evening or two, and would, willingly and happily.  Continue reading...
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The Cy Young Winner with a Thesaurus in His Locker

The knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets has won the National League's Cy Young Award, given to the league's best pitcher. We've been Dickey fans ever since we learned that he keeps a dictionary and a thesaurus in his locker. At the beginning of the 2011 baseball season, Ben Zimmer devoted a Word Routes column to Dickey, who had already emerged as a fan favorite, "not just for his way with a knuckleball, but for his way with words." Read it here.
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None takes a singular verb if what it refers to is singular and a plural verb if its referent is plural. But why is that? If none means "no one, not one," shouldn't it always be used with a singular verb? Formal agreement dictates that a singular subject pair with a singular verb and a plural subject pair with a plural verb. Yet the result doesn't always make sense. When formal agreement fails us, we reach out for notional agreement.  Continue reading...
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My relationship with poetry has been troubled. It didn't start well. When I was a child, my father -- a diehard Brit, whose favorite breakfast was smoked kippers -- encouraged me to read Rudyard Kipling. I was seven. Not only had I never encountered war, I don't think I'd ever met a soldier. The pulsing rhythm of the verse commandeered my attention but the meaning skidded right over my head.  Continue reading...
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Words of the Year, from Oxford

It's hard to believe but it's already the time when dictionary programs begin selecting their "Words of the Year." Oxford University Press has selected one Word of the Year for the UK and one for the US. The UK word is omnishambles ("a situation that has been comprehensively mismanaged"), while the US word is the acronymic verb GIF ("to create a GIF file of an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event"). The UK announcement is here, and the US announcement is here.
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A publisher of digital textbooks has announced a utility that will tell instructors whether their students are actually doing the assigned reading. Another exciting example of interactive, digital education? Or a new way to snoop on students outside the classroom?  Continue reading...
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One Troop, Many Troops

As Veterans Day is observed in the United States, a question of military usage continues to pose a puzzle: if "50,000 troops" refers to 50,000 people, then does "one troop" refer to one person? Linguist Neal Whitman looked into the matter on Veterans Day in 2009. Check out his column here.
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4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 321 Articles