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"There are some old words," explains Arika Okrent on Mental Floss, "that are nearly obsolete but we still recognize because they were lucky enough to get stuck in set phrases that have lasted across the centuries." Okrent lists a dozen "lucky words that survived by getting fossilized in idioms."  Continue reading...
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The cashier at the fancy foods store was from Bosnia. "I have so much hard time with English," she said. "Why when you add one letter does whole word change?" She had asked the customer if she had a "dim," and the customer was flummoxed.  Continue reading...
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Getting to grips with stories in the EFL environment is more than simply dealing with problematic vocabulary. It's all to do with context, and how words work together to form a greater whole. Finding the right trigger means students being able to exceed the "normal" lexical load.  Continue reading...
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In my latest column for the Boston Globe, I look at the recent craze for "cronuts," which are a croissant-doughnut hybrid created by an upscale French bakery in Manhattan. It was such a hit that imitators have created their own hybrids using names like dossant or doissant. Regardless of these concoctions' culinary qualities, is cronut a more appealing name than other combinations of croissant and do(ugh)nut?  Continue reading...
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The distinction between that and which is a favorite among usage writers. It's an interesting usage item for several reasons: first, it is an invention that was first proposed in the early 1800s yet didn't catch on until the 1900s; second, it's primarily, though not exclusively, an American distinction; and third, it has been very successful in print, though I think a good portion of its success is attributable to copy editors.  Continue reading...
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If you'd been able to sneak into my home office on a recent Wednesday at 6:15 a.m., you would have found me hunched over my computer, copying text from the book Spunk & Bite by Arthur Plotnik. Why was I doing that? At that time of day?  Continue reading...
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How to Not Write Bad — by the prolific Ben Yagoda — is an original, amusing, practical take on the writing self-help book. Yagoda points out that most writing book are about writing well, then makes the refreshing observation that writing well is beyond most people.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 8-14 of 22 Articles