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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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Blog Excerpts

One Troop, Many Troops

As Veterans Day is observed in the United States, a question of military usage continues to pose a puzzle: if "50,000 troops" refers to 50,000 people, then does "one troop" refer to one person? Linguist Neal Whitman looked into the matter on Veterans Day in 2009. Check out his column here.
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Verizon offers "Even faster FiOS Quantum Internet" speeds. Duracell has a new Quantum alkaline battery. James Bond had his Quantum of Solace. Any number of companies have "quantum" in their names as well. The implication is that "quantum" is something big and powerful, with a hint of science behind it.  Continue reading...
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It's almost Euphemism of the Year time, and whoa nelly, do I have a contender: sluggish cognitive tempo. As Peter Aldhous notes in Slate, "The name of a 'new attention disorder' sounds like an Onion-style parody. It also sounds like a classic case of disease mongering: blurring normality with sickness to boost drug companies' bottom lines."  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 198 Articles