8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 323 Articles

Via Twitter, theatre director Jen Bender posed a question that had recently come up in conversation: "A married man's lover is his mistress. What's the name for a woman's illicit lover?" Searching for an answer to that question points to the many gender-related asymmetries in English.  Continue reading...

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the first official performance of the Rolling Stones. When it comes to songwriting, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards usually don't receive as much adulation as their counterparts in the Beatles, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. But Mick and Keith have churned out some wonderful turns of phrase over the past half century. Consider this, from the Stones' 1969 single, "Honky Tonk Women": "She blew my nose and then she blew my mind."  Continue reading...

Hot dogs, fireworks, pie-eating contests... the Fourth of July is the same all around the United States, right? Not quite: some Independence Day traditions are more localized. Take "the parade of horribles," a peculiar procession that you can find in various New England shore towns. Even more peculiarly, "the parade of horribles" has become a legal metaphor, one that made an appearance in the Supreme Court's healthcare ruling last week.  Continue reading...

Recently on Twitter, Amanda Pleva vented, "I guess I'm too much of a language nerd, but the title of the show 'Monster In Laws' makes me cringe every time I see it." Amanda was referring to the reality show on the A&E Network, "Monster In-Laws," which encourages viewers to "follow married couples dealing with meddling in-laws as they try to make peace with the help of an unconventional, no-nonsense relationship expert." So is the title of the show a linguistic faux-pas?  Continue reading...

The word marriage has been the subject of a huge amount of political and legal wrangling, and dictionaries have lately been caught in the crossfire. With major English dictionaries expanding their definitions of marriage to encompass same-sex unions, lexicographers have taken hits from liberals and conservatives alike. Those opposed to same-sex marriage would prefer that dictionaries maintain the traditional definition, while those on the other side of the debate argue that same-sex marriage shouldn't be treated as secondary. Lexicographers find themselves in a no-win situation.  Continue reading...

In the 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee, the words were as diabolical as ever, but Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego, California took it all in stride. When it came time to spell the final word, guetapens, a French-derived word for "an ambush, snare, or trap," she wasn't snared by its strangeness and calmly spelled it correctly.  Continue reading...

The 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee kicked off yesterday, with 278 spellers getting whittled down to 50 semifinalists who will compete in the nationally televised action on Thursday. A precocious six-year-old didn't make the cut, but an old friend of ours, Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, will be back in the thick of it for his fifth consecutive year.  Continue reading...

8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 323 Articles