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In a class for speakers of English as a foreign language, Neal Whitman found himself teaching odd five-verb forms like "will have been being seen" and "would have been being seen." How did we end up with such unusual verb pile-ups?  Continue reading...

As a teenager, I got the impression that an easy way to make any insult extra-offensive was to say it carelessly, as if you were drunk. But eventually I realized that a slur is not a mumbled remark expressing general disrespect about someone. On the other hand, even the most carefully enunciated insult can qualify as a slur, provided it's grounded in race, religion, or other historical bases for discrimination.  Continue reading...

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...

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...

Quotable Moments of 2011

Fred R. Shapiro, the editor of The Yale Book of Quotations, is constantly on the lookout for new quotations that might make the cut for the next edition of his authoritative quotation dictionary. Below, find out what he thinks are the top ten quotations of 2011.  Continue reading...

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...

The word hybrid (from Latin hybrida, "mongrel") commonly refers to animals and plants of mixed lineage, and more recently to vehicles with two or more power sources. In linguistic morphology, it refers to a word formed by combining elements that originated in two or more languages. The process is called hybridization.  Continue reading...

4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 134 Articles