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In a publicity stunt, Toyota took out a New York Times ad, put out a YouTube video, and distributed a survey at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, asking the public what the plural of Prius should be, in a campaign announcing that there is going to be a family of Prius models. I hesitate to reward them with more publicity for such a willfully dumb question. But I can’t help myself. This is too good an excuse to talk about the wider topic of phony Latinate plurals. Well-played, Toyota.  Continue reading...
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The international diplomatic community was abuzz this week, reeling from "Cablegate," the scandalous revelation of secret diplomatic cables by Wikileaks. But what's a "cable" anyway, in this day and age? Our resident linguist Neal Whitman investigates.  Continue reading...
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In learning about the Constitution in my American history class in junior high, we learned about the Framers, checks and balances, three branches of government, and all the rest. We learned about the bicameral legislature, i.e., the two chambers of the United States Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. But after learning all that, I wondered: Where did congressmen fit into the picture with all these representatives and senators? I'd seen campaign signs referring to "Congressman So-and-so"; I'd heard encouragements to "write your congressman!"; who were these congressmen?  Continue reading...
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Linguist Neal Whitman draws a bead on the expression young guns (not to be confused with younguns), and finds that sometimes the so-called "Recency Illusion" isn't an illusion after all.  Continue reading...
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Gen-Xers like me remember MTV as the 24-hour-a-day source of music videos in the 1980s, when it stood for "Music Television." Many people today would be surprised to learn that MTV ever had anything to do with music. These days, MTV is better known as the source of reality shows like "The Jersey Shore." And now, here's something else that has nothing to do with music that you can think of when you think MTV: Conjugating verbs! When you think MTV, think "mood, tense, and voice."  Continue reading...
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Our resident linguist Neal Whitman has been thinking about the idiomatic expression "call (someone) on the carpet," in the news because of President Obama's firing of General Stanley McChrystal.  Continue reading...
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A recent trip to an amusement park with his sons Doug and Adam got linguist Neal Whitman thinking about the evolution of the word awesome, and how it took such a different historical turn from its sibling awful.  Continue reading...
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3 4 5 6 7 Displaying 36-42 of 49 Articles