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Last week, the New York City Department of Education stirred up controversy by issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) listing fifty words to avoid on the standardized tests used by the city's schools. These were not the dirty words that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that George Carlin could not say on the air, but innocuous ones like dinosaurs, birthdays, aliens from outer space, rap, and rock 'n' roll. A school spokesman told the New York Post that the words could "evoke unpleasant emotions in the students."  Continue reading...
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University of Illinois linguist Dennis Baron is a regular Visual Thesaurus contributor, and we're proud to feature selected pieces he has written for his site, The Web of Language. Here, Dennis looks back on some of the top language stories that crossed his radar in 2011.  Continue reading...
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Dennis Baron, English professor at the University of Illinois and author of the blog The Web of Language, writes:

The Web of Language Word of the Year for 2011 is "volatility." Volatility may not be trendy like occupy or Arab Spring, but it's the one word that characterizes the bipolar mood of 2011 in everything from politics to economics.  Continue reading...
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Here's an SAT-type question for you.

People who ask, "Where does the comma go?" do so because they are convinced that incorrect punctuation represents which of the following linguistic problems:

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English is a world language. Once an insignificant set of immigrant dialects on an obscure island in the rainswept North Sea, English is now the de facto language of multinational business, of science and technology, and of rock 'n' roll. Non-English speakers around the globe seem to be learning English as fast as they can.  Continue reading...
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The terrorist attacks on 9/11 happened ten years ago, and although everybody remembers what they were doing at that flashbulb moment, and many aspects of our lives were changed by those attacks, from traveling to shopping to going online, one thing stands out: the only significant impact that 9/11 has had on the English language is 9/11 itself.  Continue reading...
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It's back to school, and that means it's time for dictionaries to trot out their annual lists of new words. Dictionary-maker Merriam-Webster recently released a list of 150 words just added to its new Collegiate Dictionary for 2011, including cougar, a middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man, boomerang child, a young adult who returns to live at home for financial reasons, and social media -- if you don't know what that means, then you're still living in the last century.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 51 Articles