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Development need. This is my new favorite/least favorite euphemism, and I spied it in some online discussions about writing. One student after another mentioned having "some strengths and development needs." Not strengths and weaknesses, nosireebob: strengths and development needs, by the green thumb of Yoda.  Continue reading...
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Thanks to numerous anecdotes about the old and new ways of the lexicography, I quite enjoyed The Word Detective: Searching for the Meaning of it All at the Oxford English Dictionary, the memoir of John Simpson, former Chief Editor. Simpson was a participant and prime mover in the huge changes to the OED, which saw the dictionary finally being produced, "from the computer database, not from copper plates." Because of the unique insights into the most important and impressive dictionary in English, this is a book any word lover should enjoy.  Continue reading...
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As we look back at the language of the recent election, it's hard not to feel like political language has fallen into the sewer, and plummeted from there into a lower sewer, and might be still falling.  Continue reading...
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Every month I collect and inspect a plethora of sneaky terms from sources far and wide, to share a laugh over the human race's ludicrous attempts at lexical trickery. This month, the euphs are all coming from a single source I wish to celebrate: Green's Dictionary of Slang (GDoS).  Continue reading...
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I understand why a euphemism is useful. There's a huge stigma, unfortunately, surrounding mental health, and that stigma probably prevents people from seeking the help they need. However, I wonder if this euphemism is too effective a cloaking device.  Continue reading...
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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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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 135 Articles