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It's mind-boggling that many people who profess to love language have bizarre, backwards ideas about it based on superstition and hokum. Educated folks who mock evolution-deniers have no problem believing equally unsupported ideas about languageā€”such as "English is worse than ever!" and "Words shouldn't change!"  Continue reading...
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Are you a dreamer? I've had a few myself. That one where my pet lizard Ronnie convinced me to betray humanity to the alien lizards who control all governments was a doozy. Betraying Earth is one thing, but I would never have a pet lizard! But that's not the kind of dreamer that made a few recent headlines. Rather, a dreamer is an undocumented immigrant, usually a young person, who may have been brought to the U.S. as a child.  Continue reading...
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Have you pivoted lately? Pivot is the euphemism du jour of this election season. Unless each candidate is secretly pursuing a career as a circus contortionist, one can assume these uses don't refer to a physical twist or turn. So what do they mean?  Continue reading...
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Political comedy Veep is a show blessed with writers capable of concocting obscenities that are novel and visceral. It's the filthiest show on TV. But it's also a show that cranks out terms on the opposite end of the offensiveness spectrum: euphemisms.  Continue reading...
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Last month I mentioned the odd new nonsense-clature lingerie company Neon Moon is using for their clothes: preposterously, numbered sizes are being replaced by lovely, beautiful, and gorgeous.That reminded me of the Arrested Development episode in which a new-age school gave Maeby Funke a crocodile rather than a C, in hopes of sparing her fragile, flower-like self-esteem. Somehow I forgot an even battier euphemism from the same episode.  Continue reading...
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The Americans is my favorite TV show. Set in the 1980s, it features a web of duplicity like I've never seen, as married KGB agents Elizabeth and Phillip Jennings lie to their neighbors, manipulate their children, steal deadly chemical weapons, murder a bunch of people, wear lots of wigs, and try to maintain a healthy marriage while destroying America. Unsurprisingly, the show's many dastardly deceivers often use euphemisms.  Continue reading...
Fun
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Garner's Modern English Usage, which just released its fourth edition, is potentially a damn useful thing to me. And after looking through Bryan A. Garner's latest, I can report that the potential is realized: this is an extremely useful and sensible guide. I don't know if I would sleep with it under my pillow, but I won't keep it far from my desk.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 130 Articles