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A time-honored ritual around the world at year's end is to nominate Words of the Year, originally inspired by TIME magazine's Person of the Year. But words can be much more different from each other than people are. People of the Year are normally distinguished by their great influence. Words of the Year bear myriad relationships to the things they represent and because of this, the ways in which they distinguish themselves are extremely divergent.  Continue reading...
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If you've been keeping your head down, just doing your job and paying the bills, it may have escaped your notice that we live in exciting times. Yes, really! We're excited about things! We're excited by things! We're excited to do things! And, increasingly, we're excited for things, events, and experiences.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Happy Thesaurus Day!

January 18th is celebrated as Thesaurus Day to honor the birthday of the author of the first thesaurus, Peter Mark Roget. Get into the spirit by reading our two-part interview with Roget biographer Joshua Kendall here and here. Also check out an ode to the thesaurus penned by Franklin P. Adams here and Johnny Carson's hilarious "Funeral for a Thesaurus Editor" sketch here.
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Gathering in Washington D.C. for its annual meeting, the American Dialect Society has made its 26th annual selection for Word of the Year. And as predicted in this space last month, the winner is a lowly pronoun: they used as a gender-neutral alternative to he and she, with special attention paid to its use as an expression of "non-binary" gender identity.  Continue reading...
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The breathless anticipation is now at an end and the festivities can commence: it is 2016, the International Year of Pulses. If your main dialect of English is a North American one, you may begin by wondering whose pulses are included, since you probably think of pulse as designating the rhythmic contraction and expansion of the arteries with each beat of the heart. But there is the other pulse, familiar to speakers of other English dialects, that is more or less synonymous with legume.  Continue reading...
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It's been a while since I've written a column for this space, and in large part the hiatus has been due to my (successful) campaign for a seat on my local school board. Or board of education. Which is it? Is there a difference?  Continue reading...
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In 1948, the American journalist and language chronicler H.L. Mencken wrote an essay for The New Yorker, "Video Verbiage," in which he analyzed the lingo of the fledgling medium of television. Several of the words he gathered are now obsolete: vaudeo ("televised vaudeville"), televiewers (now just "viewers"), blizzard head (an actress so blonde that the lighting has to be toned down). Others are with us still, including telegenic and telecast. Nearly 70 years after Mencken published his essay, television itself is undergoing a massive redefinition, and so is our TV lexicon.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 841 Articles