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Blog Excerpts

The True Story of "Jumping the Shark"

"Jumping the shark," a phrase used to describe the moment a TV series goes downhill, alludes to a notorious episode of "Happy Days." Now the writer of the episode has spoken out in the Los Angeles Times. Read the story behind the phrase here.
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Ever since I wrote an On Language column for the New York Times Magazine about the authenticity of the dialogue on the AMC series "Mad Men," my inbox has been full of questions about words and phrases that have appeared on the show. The most recent episode, set in early 1965, was particularly rich in expressions that set off people's linguistic radar. Here's a look at four questionable examples from the episode.  Continue reading...
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"Words": A Video

Filmmakers Will Hoffman and Daniel Mercadante have put together a short video that's a real treat for visual/verbal types, using striking images to play with the ambiguities of words. The video was made to accompany the latest episode of the WNYC show Radiolab, entitled "Words." Watch the video here and listen to the Radiolab episode here.
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A lot of silly things get written about the craft of dictionary-making, but a story that appeared last week in the London-based Daily Telegraph just might be the most nonsensical article about lexicography in recent memory. The breathless headline reads, "Secret vault of words rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary uncovered." What a scoop! Has the Telegraph blown the lid off a cabal of Dictionary Illuminati worthy of a Dan Brown novel? Yeah, not so much.  Continue reading...
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Stan Carey, a professional editor from Ireland, writes entertainingly about the English language on his blog Sentence First. Here Stan warns of the perilous ambiguity that can result from incautious use of the word that.  Continue reading...
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Just in time for Sunday's season premiere of "Mad Men," my latest "On Language" column in The New York Times Magazine considers how authentically the show represents the speech of the 1960s. The creators of the AMC series, led by head honcho Matthew Weiner, are obsessive about getting the details of language right, just like all the other details of the show. But fans can be equally obsessive, on the lookout for the smallest linguistic anachronisms.  Continue reading...
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The Future of Electronic Reading

The Los Angeles Times takes a fascinating look at how electronic reading has the potential to revolutionize the concept of the book. "Books are increasingly able to talk to readers, quiz them on their grasp of the material, play videos to illustrate a point or connect them with a community of fellow readers." Read the article here.
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4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 90 Articles