The word "even" has been undergoing some interesting changes recently. What's the new thing going on with "even"? It has to do with questions. But posing questions that contain "even," it turns out, can be tricky business.  Continue reading...
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In every walk of life, there are things that fail to achieve what we're expecting them to. The love letter you thought was swoon-worthy falls flat. The greatest motivational technique ever is met with blank stares. Just as much as the successes though, we can learn from things that don't work. In fact, some people would say that you learn more from your missteps than from the things with a positive outcome.  Continue reading...
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Double negatives are supposed to be a bad thing. Using two negatives in one clause is not only ungrammatical, it's illogical: it creates an unintended positive meaning. According to this thinking, if you say "Studying grammar rules won't do you no good," you're really saying, "Studying grammar rules will do you good."  Continue reading...
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I've spent 81.7% of my life watching Seinfeld, but I just realized I never mentioned a Seinfeldian euphemism in one of my columns. Bagel technician, meaning someone who makes bagels, is the preposterous title on Kramer's business card during "The Strike" episode, which is better known for launching the holiday Festivus.  Continue reading...
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Back in the old days (pre-Internet), when life was simpler, dictionaries were thought to carry a certain authority. People consulted them in order to learn or verify the proper and accepted meaning of words, to resolve disagreements, and sometimes to find an authoritative hook on which they could hang arguments. Today, the Internet and other technological developments make those scenarios a little less dependable and straightforward.  Continue reading...
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Earlier this month, the Times Higher Education reported on the practice of "Roget-ing," in which plagiarism is disguised by swapping synonyms found in Roget's Thesaurus for words used in the copied paper. Though untraceable, the resulting language ranges from not quite right to cataclysmically horrible.  Continue reading...
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