Topic : Language
The Return of Lexicon Valley
July 15, 2014
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!
Euphemisms old and new
July 7, 2014By Mark Peters
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...
A Monthly Column for Word Lovers
July 2, 2014By Orin Hargraves
"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...
Pop quiz time, readers! Which of the following sentences is correct?
The reason why they got married is they love each other.
"What was your latest preneur?"It's one of the most quoted lines in the 2010 movie The Social Network. The line is proof that -preneur has bid adieu to its entre- associate and become a word part with independent staying power. Continue reading...
If you have any interest in apologies, language as performance, or politics, you'll enjoy Edwin L. Battistella's Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apologies. This is a terrific book, full of compelling examples and expert analysis. Reading this book will not only help you become better at making a mea culpa: you'll become a sharper observer of other people's apologies too. Continue reading...
Exploring the pathways of our lexicon
June 3, 2014By Ben Zimmer
In reimagining the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty, Disney had a great tool in their arsenal: the classic villain name "Maleficent," now elevated to title character. And while Angelina Jolie’s portrayal in the reboot calls into question just how villainous she really is, there is no question that the creators of the original film chose wisely when naming this "mistress of all evil." Continue reading...