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Blog Excerpts

The Best Punctuation Marks in Literature

On New York Magazine's Vulture blog, Kathryn Schulz has compiled what she considers the five best uses of punctuation in the history of literature. From the colon in Dickens's A Christmas Carol ("Marley was dead: to begin with") to the ellipses in T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," it's a fascinating list. Read it here.
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When Run Run Shaw, a giant of the Hong Kong entertainment industry, died earlier this month at the ripe old age of 106, I took the opportunity to look at a term with which he was intimately connected: kung fu. In the 1970s, martial-arts movies from the Shaw Brothers studio (and its Hong Kong rival, Golden Harvest) firmly planted kung fu in the global consciousness. But I was surprised to learn that kung fu as we know it was actually born on American soil.  Continue reading...
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Recently Lynne Truss, professional pedant, declared in her Telegraph column that English is "doomed."

Her proof? Someone wrote "It maybe time to act on this" in an email to her.  Continue reading...
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To many, the selfie — a picture of yourself, taken by yourself and shared on social media — is a sign of rampant narcissism. I tend to share that belief. Even before I heard the word, I thought there was something mentally amiss with my Facebook friends who posted over a hundred head shots of themselves. However, as a lexicographer, I have to admit the selfie trend is now broader than the self.  Continue reading...
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Ready for a ghost story? In the latest installment of his "Word Tasting Notes," James Harbeck has a ghost story about the word ghost.

This word has a ghost in it, a little guest in the host: a letter h, symbol of a soft breath, here seen but not heard — like many a spectre.  Continue reading...
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For 24 years, the American Dialect Society has chosen a Word of the Year at its annual meeting in January. Typically, the word has been a noun or verb that has risen to prominence during the previous year. But this year, strong candidates such as selfie and twerk ultimately lost to a word that isn't a noun, verb, or adjective; doesn't describe some cultural phenomenon; and has been in continuous use in English for more than 700 years: because. How did that happen?  Continue reading...
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When it gets cold and wintry, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, "alongside acts of goodwill and kindness, a major storm like this also brings out bad actors who take advantage of their customers." (If they're lousy at pretending to be good Samaritans, why are they a threat?)  Continue reading...
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9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 778 Articles