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"A breath of fresh air." "Few and far between." "At the end of the day." These are just a few of the clichés examined by Orin Hargraves, an experienced lexicographer and one of our regular contributors, in his new book It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches. In this excerpt, Hargraves explains how to "free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés."  Continue reading...
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Mignon Fogarty, better known as her alter ego Grammar Girl, has been sharing a series of short tips on usage and style. In her latest installment, she explains why the plural of the word ox is oxen instead of oxes.  Continue reading...
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One of the main functions of language is communication, and for this it no doubt helps to be as clear, concise and straightforward as one can possibly be. Clear and straightforward art using language, however, is usually pretty boring.  Continue reading...
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When you visit your bank's website or enter a credit-card number, you've probably noticed that in the browser's address box, the URL begins with https. The "S" stands for "secure," and the security technology your browser uses for that "S" represents one of the great inventions in the history of secrets. In this piece I'll walk you through some of the terms of that rich field.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

The Return of Lexicon Valley

Lexicon Valley, Slate's podcast for language lovers, has just returned after an extended hiatus. First up is an interview with Columbia University professor John McWhorter about his new book The Language Hoax. Listen to the podcast here, and also check out Mark Peters' review of McWhorter's book here. And stay tuned for news about our own Ben Zimmer joining forces with the Lexicon Valley podcasters!
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Hillary Clinton put her foot in her mouth recently when she made some comments that made it sound like she and her family were inches from the poorhouse and perhaps down to their last mouthful of gruel. She tried to explain this gaffe by saying those comments were inartful. Huh?  Continue reading...
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"Rhetoric may be defined as the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion." That's Aristotle, writing in the fourth century BCE. Most of the wiles and schemes by which modern-day crafters of clickbait entice you to take the fateful step of clicking on a link were anticipated by the Master.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 758 Articles