1 2 3 4 Displaying 22-26 of 26 Articles

In an essay on writing in last week's The New Yorker, John McPhee describes drawing boxes around "perfectly O.K." words in a search for the "mot juste." Meanwhile, Virginia Woolf tells us words are a messy tangle that will always elude our best efforts to tie them down.  Continue reading...
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We'd like to welcome Jonathon Owen, a copy editor and book designer with a master's degree in linguistics, as our newest regular contributor! Here Jonathon explains how he discovered that an oft-quoted example of George Orwell using singular "they" turned out not to be by Orwell after all.  Continue reading...
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An Inside Higher Ed article recently quoted Duke University physics professor Steffen Bass as describing the foolish stance of some of his colleagues as "bologna." Prof. Bass surely said baloney, a spelling that represents an Americanized pronunciation of bologna sausage, and it also came to mean "nonsense" in the 1920s.  Continue reading...
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Do gentlemen exist anymore? The word feels old-fashioned and paleolithic in the era of dudes, bros, and creeps. However, the word gentleman has a long, vibrant history as a euphemism. That history is worth celebrating. In the spirit of a recent column on angels, here's a look at the critters and crimes gentleman has coddled and concealed.  Continue reading...
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Figures of speech in which a part stands for the whole contribute to making linguistic expression so rich, flexible, complex, and interesting. For human speakers, it's a lifelong learning opportunity and a palette from which to paint word pictures and create new expressions. For computers trying to understand language, it can be an intractable problem.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 22-26 of 26 Articles