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If you're a fan of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I have some bad news for you: The English language is notoriously anti-minimalist. English loves multiples and hangs onto old words while continuously adding new ones. I could dig up many examples, but today I want to talk about just one pair, crisp and crispy, both of which mean essentially the same thing. Except when they don't.  Continue reading...
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At its annual meeting the American Dialect Society selected dumpster fire as its word of the year for 2016 and set a precedent by including an emoji in its announcement of the vote.  Continue reading...
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By most reliable measures, 2016 has been a very good year for fiction lovers. I'm not talking here about literature; I'm talking about the opposite of fact. In mid-November, Oxford Dictionaries declared post-truth to be its word of the year. Indeed, it's been a banner year for all the words we have at our disposal to say, "Nope, it just ain't so."  Continue reading...
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In a couple of months, the word authorities – the major dictionaries, the American Dialect Society, and language bloggers – will select their words of the year for 2016. I have no inside line on what those words will be; indeed, in past years, the winners have surprised me. (Singular "they," anyone?)  Continue reading...
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I learned a new word this summer: glotion. The word is meant to convey two concepts – glowing and lotion – in a single blended neologism. That is to say, it's a portmanteau word, a strategy for word and name creation that goes back almost 150 years.  Continue reading...
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When the British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton was searching, in 1999, for a term to describe a network of computers with their own means of gathering information and understanding the world, he didn't resort to a noun pileup like "Object Connectivity Matrix." He didn't coin a cute word like "Sensorius." Instead, he gave this dawning phenomenon a name that incorporates one of the oldest words in the English language. He called it the Internet of Things.  Continue reading...
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If you're looking for proof of the English language's remarkable flexibility, enter the word hack into the New York Times's search field. The newest results will include a mention of "hack politicians" and a reference to "the suspected hack of Sony Pictures by North Korea" in 2014.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 107 Articles