6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 118 Articles

Yesterday, President Obama gave his much-anticipated "Arab spring" speech, setting out his foreign policy objectives in the Middle East in the wake of the revolutionary wave that has shook countries from Tunisia to Bahrain. But how did we come to call this moment in history the "Arab spring," considering that the Tunisian protests that got the ball rolling started way back in December?  Continue reading...
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One of the more unforeseen outcomes of the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound is a controversy over a code name used during the mission: Geronimo. Native American groups have protested the use of the code name as a denigration of a heroic historical figure, by equating him with a modern-day terrorist and mass murderer. Strong opinions on the topic were voiced yesterday at a Senate Indian Affairs committee hearing on combating Native American stereotypes. It's the latest unusual chapter in the long history of the name Geronimo.  Continue reading...
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It's a rare newscast today, in any language, that does not include coverage of unrest in one or more countries of the Middle East, where people seem to have reached the limit of their patience with and tolerance of repressive, nonrepresentative governments. Nearly all of the countries in upheaval now are Arabic-speaking countries. So how much of this tremendous upheaval do we really "get"?  Continue reading...
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In the past few months, Americans have probably heard more about collective bargaining than in the past few decades. I've heard and read the term collective bargaining so much recently that it has gotten me thinking about the strange nature of English gerunds.  Continue reading...
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The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Obama administration is "urging protesters from Bahrain to Morocco to work with existing rulers toward what some officials and diplomats are now calling 'regime alteration.'" That sounds like a kinder, gentler version of regime change, which itself has a euphemistic ring to it. If President Obama came into office riding a wave of change, why is that word suddenly problematic?  Continue reading...
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There's a federal law that defines writing. Because the meaning of the words in our laws isn't always clear, the very first of our federal laws, the Dictionary Act--the name for Title 1, Chapter 1, Section 1, of the U.S. Code--defines what some of the words in the rest of the Code mean, both to guide legal interpretation and to eliminate the need to explain those words each time they appear. Writing is one of the words it defines, but the definition needs an upgrade.  Continue reading...
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This weekend, instead of an "On Language" column in The New York Times Magazine, I contribute a piece to the Times's Week in Review section, on how Egyptian protesters have been playing with language to make their case that President Hosni Mubarak must go. (Given his defiant "non-resignation" speech Thursday night, he's not taking the hint. Update: He got the hint!) Though most of the wordplay in the protests is in Arabic, a surprising amount is in English.  Continue reading...
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6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 118 Articles