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I had a lot of fun asking my social media community, friends and family about their word quirks, specifically words they've misread (and, thus, mispronounced). Everyone seems to have one or two — maybe more — of these. I found that they can sometimes be quite revealing.  Continue reading...
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In 1835, Charles Follen wrote, "The German language is sufficiently copious and productive, to furnish native words for any idea that can be expressed at all." In Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition, Ben Schott proves Follen correct, while establishing himself as the Rich Hall of German with this wonderful collection of Sniglet-like terms.  Continue reading...
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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was just released today. You can tell from the title that in this movie, someone's going to get desolated, and desolated but good. But who? Does Smaug desolate someone, or does someone desolate Smaug? What does desolate mean, anyway?  Continue reading...
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How to choose the most important brand names of a year? Some lists emphasize companies' value, others sales volume, and still others ad spending. I look for brands that are newly prominent or notable in the last year. Then I factor in the brand names' linguistic significance and the degree to which they represent naming trends or breakthroughs.  Continue reading...
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When I learned I was pregnant with triplets, 20 years ago, I was desperate to know their gender. Did I, God forbid, have three boys? (In my mid-30s, I was sure I didn't have the energy for that!) Now, with the benefit of many years of parenting, I can recognize my desire for that knowledge as not just mere curiosity. It arose out of my intolerance for ambiguity.  Continue reading...
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English language users have long struggled with lie, meaning "to recline," and lay, meaning "to put down." Many of the traditional English Christmas carols we hear at this time of year were written or translated during the 19th century and use lie and lay distinctly.  Continue reading...
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Stories, we learn in school, must have beginnings, middles, and ends. Creating each leg of the age-old triangle poses daunting challenges, yet for writers eager to write a deathless masterpiece, no challenge is more daunting than beginning.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 Displaying 8-14 of 21 Articles