8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 326 Articles

In my most recent column for the Boston Globe, I poke fun at new advertising slogans that Apple is using for its iPod line: the latest iPod Nano is "Completely Renanoed," while the iPod Touch is "Engineered for Maximum Funness." Whereas renanoed at least shows a modicum of creativity (turning Nano into a verb capable of taking the re- prefix), funness seems to be an unnecessarily cutesy elaboration on plain old fun. But hang on: can we make a distinction between fun and funness?  Continue reading...
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This week, there have been many celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the emoticon, the now-ubiquitous use of punctuation marks to mark emotion in online text. On September 19, 1982, at 11:44 a.m., Scott Fahlman posted a message to a Carnegie Mellon bulletin board, proposing that :-) be used for marking jokes and :-( for non-jokes. Though Fahlman should get full credit for these pioneering smiley and frowny faces, there were in fact much earlier pioneers in expressive typography.  Continue reading...
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If there's one expression that seems to have taken over the media landscape lately, it's "doubling down." Deriving from the game of blackjack, "doubling down" has taken on a figurative meaning over the past couple of decades: "to engage in risky behavior, especially when one is already in a dangerous situation," as the Oxford English Dictionary defines it. So why is everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Clinton talking about risk-taking in this way? And when is it considered a good thing?  Continue reading...
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Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention, in which he nominated President Obama for re-election, has been hailed as a rhetorical tour de force. The press corps marveled at how Clinton used the prepared speech as a mere starting point, injecting his remarks with ad-libbed folksiness. The result was a speech that managed to elucidate wonky policy specifics in the homespun style of a Southern preacher.  Continue reading...
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Last week on NPR's Morning Edition, sports commentator Frank Deford said in a piece about Serena Williams and her volatile style that "the proof is in the pudding." After a listener questioned the usage, I was called in to be the arbiter on the idiomatic expression. Is the proof in the pudding? Or is the proof of the pudding in the eating?  Continue reading...
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Can a simple slangy acronym mark a generation gap? YOLO, short for "You Only Live Once," has emerged as an age-based shibboleth: all too familiar to members of the millennial set, and all but meaningless to their elders. In my latest Boston Globe column, I dissect the YOLO phenomenon, but there's much more to say about those four letters.  Continue reading...
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If there's one thing that dictionary publishers have learned, it's that announcing new words added to their latest editions is good for generating some media attention — and also generating public hand-wringing over what the new entries say about the state of our society and our language.  Continue reading...
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8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 326 Articles