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The film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical Into The Woods just opened to much critical acclaim. Musical theater and film are very different, and revising and adapting one's work is a challenge, but what changes and how it changes can offer us insight into the art and the artist.  Continue reading...
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The holiday season is famous for its hustle and bustle. But that doesn't mean word learning has to come to a stop. In fact, the holidays provide many opportunities to acquire and think about words. It's just a question of knowing where to look for them.  Continue reading...
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It's time once again for the annual look back at the noteworthy words of the past year. Did you indulge in any manspreading or Columbusing this year? Were you concerned about dark money or plastigomerate? Here's a veritable vortex of words that rose to prominence in 2014.  Continue reading...
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In an interview with Stephen Colbert, whose "Colbert Report" ends this week after nine years on the air, Ben Zimmer gets the inside scoop on truthiness, Colbert's ultimate "silly word that would feel wrong in your mouth."  Continue reading...
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For my latest appearance on the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley, I take a look at a word with an origin story that seems too good to be true: grog, an alcoholic concoction, typically of rum and water, that has been making sailors groggy since the 18th century.  Continue reading...
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At the end of each year, while linguists and lexicographers cast votes for words of the year, I'm compiling a different list: the brand names that distilled the mood of the previous twelve months. To narrow the field, I add another criterion: the brand names must have linguistic or onomastic significance — onomastics being the study of names.  Continue reading...
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I occasionally teach a class about using Microsoft Word. In one of the class exercises, students are asked to format a page, and the instructions tell them to "outdent" a heading. After I got several questions about that each class, I realized that lots of people have no idea what the term means.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 210 Articles