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Blog Excerpts

A Taxing Day for Dictionaries

"Yes, April 15th is still the dreaded tax day," writes Mim Harrison. "But thanks to Samuel Johnson, it's also a great day for the English language and its wealth of wonderful words." That's because it is the date on which Johnson published his monumental dictionary of the English language in 1755. Read Harrison's look back at Johnson's Dictionary here.
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In my latest column for The Boston Globe, I observed that Beantown has more than its fair share of local terms for sketchy traffic maneuvers: the Boston left, the Boston bump, the Boston block, and so forth. But these regional labels can be found all over the country, and new ones keep cropping up.  Continue reading...
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In the wake of the Scripps National Spelling Bee's announcement Tuesday that vocabulary questions will now be included in the Bee, quiz yourself on sample questions here.  Continue reading...
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Jonathon Owen is a copy editor and student of linguistics who "holds the paradoxical view that it's possible to be a prescriptivist and descriptivist simultaneously." Here, he looks at how people can get tripped up on words with unusual plural forms like phenomena.  Continue reading...
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English teachers used to drill into students that they did not "feel good." They "felt well." It was the corollary to "I feel bad," not "I feel badly," to which many teachers would reply something like: "Well, maybe if you took off your gloves, you could feel better." "Good," "well," "bad," and "badly" all define how you feel, but not in the same way, grammatically.  Continue reading...
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Last week, usage guru Bryan A. Garner collected a list of business-speak or "bizspeak" to avoid and posted it to the Harvard Business Review blog. What he describes as "vogueish" and "hyperformal" vocabulary makes an easy target.  Continue reading...
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Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died yesterday after a protracted battle with cancer. He leaves behind a prodigious record of film commentary, but one of his most delightful efforts is his "Glossary of Movie Terms" for Roger Ebert's Video Companion (later expanded into Ebert's Little Movie Glossary). With help from readers, Ebert compiled a lexicon of the silliest movie clich├ęs. Here's a sampling.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 15-21 of 25 Articles