6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 114 Articles

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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Tuesday night's State of the Union address by President Obama provided a fresh round of political phrase-making. As members of Congress went on a bipartisan date night, Obama called for investments to win the future and meet our Sputnik moment by doing big things. Here's a look at some of the memorable words and phrases that came out of the speech.  Continue reading...
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Last week, President Barack Obama sent Americans running to the dictionary when he called Democrats opposing his compromise on tax cuts "sanctimonious."  Continue reading...
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Sarah Palin's political opponents made hay out of her gaffe last Wednesday, when she said on Glenn Beck's radio show that "We gotta stand with our North Korean allies," when she meant "South Korean allies." Palin fought back with a Thanksgiving Facebook message that pointed to numerous slips of the tongue by President Obama. I don't find her "North Korean" error particularly remarkable (she was swiftly corrected by Beck, and she didn't confuse North and South Korea elsewhere in her remarks). I was more interested in what she said before that: "We're not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do." Was her use of sanction also erroneous?  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

NOAD Word of the Year: "Refudiate"

It's time once again for "Word of the Year" season! The New Oxford American Dictionary gets things started by naming its Word of 2010: Sarah Palin's notorious Twitterism, refudiate. Read about the selection and the runners-up (including vuvuzela and nom nom) on the Oxford University Press blog here. And read more about refudiate in Ben Zimmer's Word Routes column here.
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6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 114 Articles