I understand why a euphemism is useful. There's a huge stigma, unfortunately, surrounding mental health, and that stigma probably prevents people from seeking the help they need. However, I wonder if this euphemism is too effective a cloaking device.  Continue reading...
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Intensive purposes? Slight of hand? Linguist Adam Cooper contemplates phrases whose meanings are in transition as we replace unfamiliar words fossilized with language that sounds more reasonable to our modern ears.  Continue reading...
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Many verbs that entail some advanced cognitive capacity are commonly used in predicates for subjects that are not human. All speakers are comfortable with sentences like "Verizon revamps mobile plans and ends 2-year contracts & subsidies." Most speakers, however, reject sentences like "Microsoft is vividly imagining a purple square."  Continue reading...
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Imagine yourself among the travelers to North America 500 or more years ago, arriving initially by ship as the earliest European explorers did, but equipped with the trained sensibility of a modern linguist.  Continue reading...
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Scientists have long been interested in the role that genetics plays over evolutionary time in the production of genetically distinct populations in all organisms. When the organism in question is homo sapiens, there's a new twist in the tale because people need to talk, and talk accompanies nearly everything that we do, including procreation.  Continue reading...
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Have you ever sent a really EPIC tweet? There are different ways to answer that question: I'll proceed with one way that probably doesn't occur to you. The EPIC tweets under the microscope here are tweets that are of interest to Project EPIC — that is, Empowering the Public with Information in Crisis.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Ben Zimmer Wins LSA's Linguistics Journalism Award

The Linguistic Society of America today named Vocabulary.com-Visual Thesaurus Executive Producer Ben Zimmer as the first recipient of the Linguistics Journalism Award. The award honors "the journalist whose work best represents linguistics" during the past 12 months. In addition to his stellar work on Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus, the LSA singled out Zimmer's language column in the Wall Street Journal, as well as "articles on linguistic topics for the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Slate's 'Lexicon Valley' blog, and Language Log."
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