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A Florida correspondent writes: "My boss is obsessed with Strunk & White, and so tells me that I can never start a sentence with 'however' when using it to mean 'nevertheless.' I disagree with him and say that I can start a sentence with 'however' when I mean 'nevertheless' if I put a comma after the 'however.'"  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

A "Super" Word, Traced to Syracuse

"Supercalifragilistic-expialidocious," the sesquipedalian word made famous by Mary Poppins, has a peculiar and contentious history. Ben Zimmer told the story of his hunt for the word's origins, ending up in Syracuse, in his Word Routes column. Syracuse Post-Standard columnist Sean Kirst talked to Zimmer about the search in his latest column. Read it here.
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We all like good writing and dislike bad writing; we all want to write well, not badly. Yet the words "good" and "bad," when applied to any work of art are so much matters of taste that they often seem empty as definitions and arbitrary as categories.  Continue reading...
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The American Dialect Society has selected its Word of the Year for 2012, and the winner was a bit of a surprise. It wasn't fiscal cliff, the ubiquitous term in the news from Capitol Hill. And it wasn't YOLO, the youthful acronym for "You Only Live Once" that quickly rose (and just as quickly fell) this past year. No, the ultimate champion was that mainstay of the Twittersphere, hashtag.  Continue reading...
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At the American Dialect Society's annual conference in Boston, we took a break from paper presentations to select nominations for the Word of the Year. As chair of the New Words Committee, I presided over the nominating session on Thursday. Winners will be selected from the different categories on Friday evening, culminating in the vote for the overall Word of the Year. Here's the list of nominees.  Continue reading...
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The bad news: SAT reading scores have reached an all-time low, and recently released NAEP scores reveal that American students' vocabulary growth is "flat." The good news: It's no longer 2012. It's 2013, a new year, a time to buy gym memberships and to overhaul your vocabulary instruction. Just do it.  Continue reading...
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2012, the year of the Mayan non-pocalypse, has passed away, joined the heavenly choir, bit the big one, bought the farm, joined the heavenly choir, taken a dirt nap, joined the majority, and croaked. Let's bury it with terms of an appropriate nature: euphemisms for death.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 22-28 of 29 Articles