8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 569 Articles

English language users have long struggled with lie, meaning "to recline," and lay, meaning "to put down." Many of the traditional English Christmas carols we hear at this time of year were written or translated during the 19th century and use lie and lay distinctly.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Freshman? Freshperson? Frosh? First-Year?

Despite the successful efforts of nonsexist language reform, the word "freshman" persists on college campuses. On the Chronicle of Higher Education's Lingua Franca blog, University of Michigan English professor Anne Curzan considers why this is and weighs the alternatives. Read her article here.
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In "eminent domain," a government can seize property for public use, as long as it compensates the owner. In "imminent domain," it stands to reason, the government wants to do it NOW. Except that there is no such thing as "imminent domain." It's a mistake — a common one, but a mistake nonetheless.  Continue reading...
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Google's Ngram Viewer, especially with its addition of wildcard searching, provides an inexhaustible trove of material for understanding the ways that speakers and writers impart influential nuances to the connotations of words over time. The legacy of any particular word is subject to the whims of the people who use it.  Continue reading...
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Noel Anenberg, a regular reader of this column and author of the forthcoming book The Dog Boy, asked me about a usage of have that implies, Anenberg writes, "the speaker's active role in the events." Compare "I had my house cleaned" and "I had my car stolen."  Continue reading...
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In recent weeks, we've talked about idioms that are misheard, and thus miswritten. Now, we'll discuss some idioms that say the opposite of what they mean and whether they're "acceptable" English.  Continue reading...
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In the thick of homecoming season and with a son in high school, I've been hearing more these days about who likes who, who's dating who, and who's unwillingly unattached at the moment. It turns out there have been some changes in the vocabulary for that situation since my high-school and college days.  Continue reading...
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8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 569 Articles