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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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A great challenge for anyone looking to improve their vocabulary is identifying the words they don't know. Yesterday, Slate contributor Seth Stevenson gave the phenomenon a name in "Bubble vocabulary: the words you almost know, sometimes use, but are secretly unsure of."  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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"Victuals" is one of those words that many people know by sound and sight but have not put sound and sight together. It's sort of like knowing someone by name and knowing someone by face, but not realizing the two are the same person. Until you accidentally find out, and it's usually embarrassing.  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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How ALL CAPS Became Code for YELLING

Ever wonder why we think that someone who types a message in all capitalized letters appears to be YELLING? In The New Republic, Alice Robb digs deep into the roots of how the ALL CAPS style has been interpreted in the Internet era (with some help from our own Ben Zimmer in the digital archaeology department), and explains why excessive capitalization is bad netiquette. Read her piece here.
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We have occasionally invoked Tom Lehrer when discussing how the simple letter "e" can change the meaning of many words, citing his song "Silent 'E.'" That "e" can also magically change a word into another form, such as a noun into a verb. This being illogical English, there are few "rules" as to what it does, though.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 15-21 of 752 Articles