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Blog Excerpts

How Language Shapes The Gun Debate

On NPR's Morning Edition, Ari Shapiro reported on how the debate over gun restrictions in the United States is powerfully framed by terms such as "gun control" and "gun rights." Our own Ben Zimmer is interviewed about how language shapes such political debates. Listen to the segment here, and check out a list of "loaded words" from the gun debate here.
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National Grammar Day is just around the corner — it falls on Monday, March 4th (march forth, get it?). Among the festivities is the annual Grammar Haiku Contest, overseen by editor Mark Allen. In the contest, verbivores vie for glory by submitting grammar- or usage-based haikus on Twitter. This year, I've been asked to be a judge.  Continue reading...
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On the NPR program "Fresh Air," Berkeley linguist Geoff Nunberg turned to a topic that is one of our favorites: assessing the linguistic accuracy of period dramas, whether it's Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Lincoln or Argo. In an age obsessed with authenticity, Nunberg argues, we often choose to nitpick over the wrong details.  Continue reading...
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If writing teachers have any absolutely verboten, don't-go-there, not-on-your-life, no-no rule, it is: "Avoid vague qualifiers!" Yet in recently re-reading The Bulwark, Theodore Dreiser's last and perhaps greatest novel, I began to see a value in vague qualifiers that I'd never seen before.  Continue reading...
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This lesson introduces students to the genre of literary nonfiction and has them analyze the literary elements of a cell description in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Continue reading...
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We have weather "forecasts," budget "projections," attempts at earthquake "predictions." Most dictionaries say those are all synonyms for one another. So why doesn't the nightly weather report call them "predictions" or "projections"?  Continue reading...
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It's George Washington's birthday, so this month's puzzle has a Washingtonian theme. Figure out the word chain and you could win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 26 Articles