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In reimagining the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, Disney had a great tool in their arsenal: the classic villain name "Maleficent," now elevated to title character. And while Angelina Jolie’s portrayal in the reboot calls into question just how villainous she really is, there is no question that the creators of the original film chose wisely when naming this "mistress of all evil."  Continue reading...
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It was another dramatic finish at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. After the 46 semifinalists were whittled down to the dozen contestants for last night's finals, I tweeted, "12 kids enter, 1 kid leaves." Little did I know that two kids would be named co-champions in the Bee's first tie since 1962.  Continue reading...
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It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee! Two hundred and eighty-one young spellers gathered near Washington, D.C. and sweated through the preliminary rounds yesterday. For the second year, those rounds included not just questions about the spelling of words but also their definitions. After all was said and done, 46 survived to advance to Thursday's semifinals.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

The 2014 Spelling Bee Is Here!

It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee! The preliminaries are today, and the nationally televised semifinals and finals are tomorrow (May 29). As in past years, our own Ben Zimmer will be live-tweeting the competition from the @VocabularyCom Twitter account and reporting on the results here in his Word Routes column. In the meantime, catch up on our coverage of the format changes introduced last year that brought vocabulary questions into the mix: here and here.
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Many popular Internet memes rely on a usually predictable manipulation of language as a part of their humor. Examining a number of popular memes suggests that they all in fact rely on theme and variation in order to proliferate, and the linguistic aspect of the meme is integral to its ability to spawn siblings and offspring.  Continue reading...
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Once upon a time, fellas, gentleman, and guys roamed the land. Eventually, we become dudes. Unfortunately, many of us became bros. Bro is also a staple of word-making. Based on sheer prolificness, bro may be the affix of the decade.  Continue reading...
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As I was searching Twitter while writing last month's column on bae, I occasionally found tweets saying things like, "Gonna turn up tonight with my bae!" Now why would someone find it newsworthy to announce that they were simply going to appear somewhere? Of course, not everything people tweet is newsworthy, but still, why such excitement over simply showing up?  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 376 Articles