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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From the annual meeting of the American Copy Editors Society in Las Vegas comes some earth-shaking news: the folks who edit the Associated Press Stylebook have loosened the distinction between "over" and "more than." The stylebook editors announced that they are now fine with "over" being used with numbers. Many of those in attendance were aghast, while others hailed the change as long overdue.  Continue reading...
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During Hollywood movie-awards season — which culminates this year on March 2 with the Academy Awards show — honors are handed out for acting, editing, visual effects, music, makeup, and costumes. One category, however, has never had a chance to shine: the often creative, sometimes wacky names of film production companies.  Continue reading...
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In 1913, the National Press Club hosted a spelling bee that pitted members of Congress against members of the press. This week, the club celebrated the centennial of that event by bringing lawmakers and journalists together once again for a spelling battle, and Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia emerged as the victor.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Word on the Street: New Wall Street Journal Column

Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and Vocabulary.com, has been writing a language column for the last couple of years for The Boston Globe (and before that for The New York Times Magazine). Now he is starting a new language column for The Wall Street Journal called "Word on the Street." Each week he will focus on a word in the news and examine its history. In his first column, he looks at how cyber is showing up with increasing frequency as a noun. Check it out here.
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What the city of Boston experienced last week was described again and again as surreal. It was the only word that seemed capable of encompassing the week's unfolding events, from Monday's deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon finish line to Friday's lockdown of the city as SWAT teams zeroed in on the remaining suspect of the bombing.  Continue reading...
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Legendary film critic Roger Ebert died yesterday after a protracted battle with cancer. He leaves behind a prodigious record of film commentary, but one of his most delightful efforts is his "Glossary of Movie Terms" for Roger Ebert's Video Companion (later expanded into Ebert's Little Movie Glossary). With help from readers, Ebert compiled a lexicon of the silliest movie clich├ęs. Here's a sampling.  Continue reading...
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