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We're coming up on National Grammar Day (it's March 4th, as in "march forth"), so we asked our resident linguist Neal Whitman to tackle a topic sure to warm the cockles of grammar-lovers' hearts: helping verbs! But how many are there? And can you fit them all into a catchy song?  Continue reading...
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Back in December, a small study by researchers at Long Island University got a lot of news play. Maybe you heard about it. It was about the supposed recent increase in young American women's use of vocal fry — the lowest vocal register, the one with a creaky quality to it.  Continue reading...
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I've been coaching a team of three eighth-grade girls for the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, as one of the co-curricular clubs that are offered at my sons' school. We've been having fun working what amounts to logic puzzles with a linguistic slant, and I've been introducing various linguistic concepts as they become relevant. A few weeks ago, as we worked our way through a puzzle whose solution depended on recognizing the length of a syllable, I decided it would be useful for the team to know the word diphthong.  Continue reading...
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Earlier this month, the Earth's population passed seven billion. During the summer, the United States' national debt (at least the official debt as calculated by the U.S. Treasury) hit $14 trillion. And in a joke that's been going around for about a decade, various people, including blondes, Texas Aggies, violinists, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, have learned of the death of several Brazilian skydivers (or Brazilian soldiers in Iraq) and wondered, "How many is a Brazilian?"  Continue reading...
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As most histories of Halloween will tell you, Hallowe'en (or Halloween) is a shortened version of All-Hallow(s)-Eve, but how and why did eve turn into e'en? For that matter, what is a hallow? Why did the all get dropped?  Continue reading...
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The movies have me in a venge-ful mood these days. Among the surfeit of superhero movies this summer there was Captain America: The First Avenger. This movie, along with Thor and last summer's Iron Man 2, is a prelude to next summer's The Avengers, showcasing the Marvel superhero team that features these characters.  Continue reading...
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Long before last week's verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, viewers of Nancy Grace's Headline News program had gotten used to her referring to Anthony, accused of murdering her daughter Cayley, as the tot mom. People hearing tot mom for the first time sometimes ask if it's connected to another parenting-related compound word that has gained prominence in recent years: baby mama.  Continue reading...
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2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 46 Articles