7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 114 Articles

Four years ago, when then-President George W. Bush surveyed the losses suffered by congressional Republicans in the midterm elections, he memorably called it a "thumping." On Wednesday, President Obama used a similarly colorful term to describe his party's electoral woes. "I’m not recommending for every future President that they take a shellacking like I did last night," he said at his press conference. That comment led many to wonder, how did shellacking come to describe a thorough defeat?  Continue reading...
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In learning about the Constitution in my American history class in junior high, we learned about the Framers, checks and balances, three branches of government, and all the rest. We learned about the bicameral legislature, i.e., the two chambers of the United States Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. But after learning all that, I wondered: Where did congressmen fit into the picture with all these representatives and senators? I'd seen campaign signs referring to "Congressman So-and-so"; I'd heard encouragements to "write your congressman!"; who were these congressmen?  Continue reading...
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When I wrote an On Language column in the New York Times Magazine last month about the rise in popularity of the expression "man up," little did I know that it would turn into one of the key catchphrases of American political discourse in advance of November's midterm elections.  Continue reading...
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This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of the premiere episode of "The Colbert Report," Stephen Colbert's endlessly entertaining sendup of political pundit programs. On that episode, Colbert introduced the word "truthiness," which has proved so popular that it has entered the latest edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary. For my On Language column in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, I had the pleasure of interviewing Colbert (as himself, not his put-upon persona) and learned the inside story of "truthiness." Here is an extended excerpt from our conversation.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Moynihan's Sesquipedalianism

Newly published letters from longtime New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan reveal his efforts to popularize the word floccinaucinihili­pilificationism ("the futility of making estimates on the accuracy of public data"). Read about it on The New York Times City Room blog here.
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Blog Excerpts

A Confusing Job Title

The top financial officer in the state of New York is the Comptroller — but nobody is quite sure how to pronounce it. It originally sounded like "controller," but that pronunciation has faded. Sam Dolnick, metro reporter for The New York Times, investigates here.
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Blog Excerpts

Further Thoughts on "Refudiate"

Still mulling over Sarah Palin's use of the word refudiate? Check out these two commentaries. In his Good magazine column, Visual Thesaurus contributor Mark Peters uses Refudiate-gate as an opportunity for a "Sarah Palin retrospective" here. And Geoff Nunberg argues on NPR's "Fresh Air" that the reactions to Palin's gaffe were more telling than the gaffe itself, here.
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7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 114 Articles