An Ode to "Hella"

Lately the Northern Californian slang word hella has been in the news, thanks to a well-publicized Facebook petition to make it the official prefix for 10 to the 27th power. Here we present a first-hand account of the cultural significance of hella from Samantha Strimling, a young journalist about to graduate from Piedmont High School in the San Francisco Bay area. We were pleased to make Samantha's acquaintance at a recent Visual Thesaurus presentation to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.  Continue reading...

A few months ago we interviewed sixth-grader Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, who participated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee the last two years, placing 17th last spring. We were pleased to hear that another Ohio student, seventh-grader Tony Incorvati of Canton Country Day School, has also made it to the Nationals twice and, like Nicholas, has been using the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee to study for this year's bee season. We talked to Tony and his mother Nancy Incorvati about how they've been preparing.  Continue reading...

We were thrilled to learn that sixth-grader Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, who placed 17th in last spring's Scripps National Spelling Bee, is an avid user of the Visual Thesaurus. In fact, he used the Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee as a training tool in preparing for the Nationals. And now as he gets ready to compete again during this school year, he's taking advantage of our new Community Spelling Bee feature to customize his practice lists. We caught up with Nicholas and his mother Michele Rushlow to find out what it takes to be one of the nation's top spellers.  Continue reading...

When we ran a post called "Short Words Are Best" a few weeks ago, subscribers jammed our Inbox with comments. One in particular caught our attention:

"Sure, short words are more readable, but what about the joy that comes from solving the innermost puzzle of a long word? For a linguaphile like me, the purest ecstasy arises from finding the Latin or Greek roots in a word, putting them together, and discovering the story of a word. For example, the word "peninsula" comes from "paene" and "insula," which mean "almost" and "island," respectively. So the word peninsula literally means "almost island." Sure, it's a long word, and some students may not like to read it, but the pleasure of the shape of the word and the story of its creation makes reading it worth the while."

We appreciated this spirited defense of long words, plus we noticed the word "students" in the comment. So we emailed this person, a teacher obviously, to find out more about how she teaches language. Well, maybe not so obvious. Here was the reply:

"You just made my day! I'm no English teacher -- I'm a high school freshman!"

 Continue reading...

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