8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 528 Articles

In 2005, Arnold Zwicky introduced the term zombie rule to describe a grammar rule that isn't really a rule. Zombie rules are taught, followed, and passed along as rules we must follow to speak and write correctly. Like their namesakes, however, these rules are dead and no matter how many times it's explained that there is no grammatical basis for them, they just keep coming back.  Continue reading...
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When Fox News host Megyn Kelly gamely took on Erick Erickson, a contributor to the network, for his provocative statements about gender roles last week, she was puzzled by one word in particular that Erickson had used to describe his ideological opponents. "I don't know what the word is... some sort of liberals, eco-liberals, what did you call them?" "Emo liberals," Erickson clarified.  Continue reading...
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I believe in equality: in society and in columns. Last month, I looked at the prolific use of gentleman in euphemisms. This month, I turn to lady. Lady euphs prove something I always suspected: the English language is seldom a well-behaved lady, but it always shows you a good time.  Continue reading...
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On the shortlist of the American Dialect Society's word of the year for 2012 was Gangnam-style. It lost out to hashtag, but like the winner, it's a compound word (in fact all of the nominees were) and it points up an interesting feature of English: the way that people coin adjectives with the productive suffix -style, and the way in which speakers are assumed to interpret them correctly on the basis of real-world knowledge; such compounds are rarely defined in dictionaries.  Continue reading...
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On the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is celebrated in the United States. But wait: is celebrated the right word? Would it be more appropriate to say Memorial Day is observed? Wendalyn Nichols, an experienced editor and lexicographer, guides us through this usage quandary.  Continue reading...
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"Lean in," thanks to the title of a new book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, has become "the idiom of the moment," Motoko Rich writes in the New York Times, adding "the phrase seems to have taken on a life of its own." But where did all of this "leaning in" come from?  Continue reading...
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WARNING: Grammar lesson ahead.

If you ever knew what a "participle" was, you may have forgotten. Same with the word "gerund." And if you ever heard the term "fused participle," you probably zoned out completely.  Continue reading...
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8 9 10 11 12 Displaying 64-70 of 528 Articles