A couple of years ago I wrote about irritating the habit of clickbait purveyors to withhold critical information in the text of their clickable link in order to tantalize readers. The promise is that the thirst for missing but suggested information will be slaked with a simple click. Since then, the tendency has gotten worse.  Continue reading...
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I learned a new word this summer: glotion. The word is meant to convey two concepts – glowing and lotion – in a single blended neologism. That is to say, it's a portmanteau word, a strategy for word and name creation that goes back almost 150 years.  Continue reading...
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When the British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton was searching, in 1999, for a term to describe a network of computers with their own means of gathering information and understanding the world, he didn't resort to a noun pileup like "Object Connectivity Matrix." He didn't coin a cute word like "Sensorius." Instead, he gave this dawning phenomenon a name that incorporates one of the oldest words in the English language. He called it the Internet of Things.  Continue reading...
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I live in the heart of a small lexical explosion—Boulder, Colorado, home to about 100,000 people (of whom 30,000 are university students), and about two dozen retail marijuana dispensaries. The lexical explosion is in the marketing vocabulary of a product that until recently, despite its being universally known and widely used, was contraband.  Continue reading...
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Earlier this year the Associated Press Stylebook issued one of its frequent updates. "Do not use ride-sharing" to refer to services such as Uber and Lyft, the stylebook counseled; instead, use the modifier ride-booking or ride-hailing. It was the AP's quixotic bid to stem the increasingly common use of sharing to refer to a wide range of activities that are not quite as selfless as the word share may suggest.  Continue reading...
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At the end of each year, while linguists and lexicographers cast votes for words of the year, I'm compiling a different list: the brand names that distilled the mood of the previous twelve months. To narrow the field, I add another criterion: the brand names must have linguistic or onomastic significance — onomastics being the study of names.  Continue reading...
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The old adage about American and England being "two nations divided by a common language" — wrongly attributed to George Bernard Shaw, who never said or wrote it — may still hold true in some quarters. But in the language of U.S. commerce, it's fast losing its relevance. Terms that once seemed quaintly Olde English to Americans — from "bespoke" to "stockist" — are fast becoming the new normal.  Continue reading...
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