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Hillary Clinton put her foot in her mouth recently when she made some comments that made it sound like she and her family were inches from the poorhouse and perhaps down to their last mouthful of gruel. She tried to explain this gaffe by saying those comments were inartful. Huh?  Continue reading...
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Ammon Shea's enjoyable, witty new book Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation shows that English isn't really bad at all — despite what legions of gripers and nitpickers have to say. Armed with facts and historical context, Shea gives readers an informed and enjoyable tour of the issues that annoy people the most about language.  Continue reading...
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If you have any interest in apologies, language as performance, or politics, you'll enjoy Edwin L. Battistella's Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apologies. This is a terrific book, full of compelling examples and expert analysis. Reading this book will not only help you become better at making a mea culpa: you'll become a sharper observer of other people's apologies too.  Continue reading...
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Context collapse is cited by researchers as a reason friendships fall apart online, with only the Borg mind of Mark Zuckerberg to connect them. That certainly makes sense. If the only context we share is that we were in the same fourth-grade English class, and the teacher tossed the same erasers at us for talking in class, and we didn't even like each other much then, our context is thinner than a supermodel.  Continue reading...
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Once upon a time, fellas, gentleman, and guys roamed the land. Eventually, we become dudes. Unfortunately, many of us became bros. Bro is also a staple of word-making. Based on sheer prolificness, bro may be the affix of the decade.  Continue reading...
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Whorfianism — the idea that language shapes thought, and each language creates a distinct worldview — is an appealing idea. But there's one problem: Whorfianism, at least dogmatic Whorfianism, is a huge load of bunk, at least according to John McWhorter's new book The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language.  Continue reading...
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A few of my female friends have a fun hobby. Not knitting. Not kickboxing. Not baking pies. Not vampire-slaying. Hating Gwyneth Paltrow. I haven't fully grasped my friends' loathing in the past, but I'm beginning to understand, thanks to a humdinger of a euphemism Paltrow used to describe her impending divorce: conscious uncoupling.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 96 Articles