7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 119 Articles

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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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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7 8 9 10 11 Displaying 57-63 of 119 Articles