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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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How Language Shapes The Gun Debate

On NPR's Morning Edition, Ari Shapiro reported on how the debate over gun restrictions in the United States is powerfully framed by terms such as "gun control" and "gun rights." Our own Ben Zimmer is interviewed about how language shapes such political debates. Listen to the segment here, and check out a list of "loaded words" from the gun debate here.
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On the NPR program "Fresh Air," Berkeley linguist Geoff Nunberg turned to a topic that is one of our favorites: assessing the linguistic accuracy of period dramas, whether it's Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Lincoln or Argo. In an age obsessed with authenticity, Nunberg argues, we often choose to nitpick over the wrong details.  Continue reading...
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The "Today Show" visited Boston on Friday, and as part of the show they included a segment on the accent of the city, so immediately recognizable and so often imitated (but rarely well!). And who did they turn to for background on how the accent came to be? Our very own Ben Zimmer.  Continue reading...
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Trying to teach journalists the finer points of law is nearly as hard as trying to teach them the finer points of math. So the advice often is boiled down to overly simplistic "rules": A house is "burglarized," but a person is "robbed."  Continue reading...
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When it first became evident that Hurricane Sandy might merge with an inland snowstorm to create a superstorm, the creative labels started pouring in. Snowicane. Snor'eastercane. Frankenstorm. But now that the storm has shut down much of the East Coast, is it time to set aside such wordplay?  Continue reading...
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At a summer journalism workshop, young writers were thrown into the deep end of the pool but came up with impressive results. Bob Greenman recounts how the high school students that he taught proved up to the task of becoming dogged reporters.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 90 Articles