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Parallelism is something copyeditors obsess about and writers take little notice of. If we could meet in the middle, our sentences would be a lot happier. Parallelism is no more than matching parts of a sentence or multiple sentences grammatically. It creates balance and rhythm in the sentence and brings order and clarity to meaning.  Continue reading...
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The old adage about American and England being "two nations divided by a common language" — wrongly attributed to George Bernard Shaw, who never said or wrote it — may still hold true in some quarters. But in the language of U.S. commerce, it's fast losing its relevance. Terms that once seemed quaintly Olde English to Americans — from "bespoke" to "stockist" — are fast becoming the new normal.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Oxford's Word of the Year is "Vape"

The editors at Oxford Dictionaries have selected their choice for 2014 Word of the Year, and it is "vape," defined as "to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device." Check out Oxford's announcement here. Our contributor Nancy Friedman was on the case back in 2010, in her column, "But Wait, There's Less!" (Nancy also named "vape" one of her Words of 2013.)
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In the latest installment of the Slate podcast "Lexicon Valley," I presented the hosts Mike Vuolo and Bob Garfield with a bit of a mystery. Where did the expression "get one's goat" come from? Theories abound, but hard evidence of the phrase's early use has only recently come to light.  Continue reading...
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Since 1991, November has been National Novel-Writing Month, when thousands of aspiring writers take up the challenge of knocking out a 50,000-word draft of a novel in 30 days. I don't know much about writing novels, but I have learned one thing: Don't call your opus a "fiction novel."  Continue reading...
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Welcome to the latest in our series of quick tips on usage and style shared by Mignon Fogarty, better known as Grammar Girl. In this tip, Mignon advises on the usage of toward vs. towards.  Continue reading...
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I protect my writing time the way a mother bear guards her cubs. I write first thing in the morning and I refuse to check my email (or Facebook or Twitter or phone messages) until I've written at least 500 words.  Continue reading...
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