9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 559 Articles

It's September and students of all ages are heading back to school. But why is it back to school and not back to the school or back to schools? Certainly if I were to write about one specific school, I would write the school. If I were talking about schools as a category, I can say schools.  Continue reading...
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The situation in Syria has revived a number of well-worn foreign-policy phrases, from "boots on the ground" to "slam-dunks" and "smoking guns." As the American response to the conflict has involved far more in the way of words than deeds, it's worth taking a closer look at the words used by officials and commentators, no matter how hackneyed.  Continue reading...
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In his latest monthly batch of under-the-radar euphemisms, Mark Peters illuminates why the care of "post-health professionals" might be necessary after someone is sent on a "trip to Belize."  Continue reading...
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Premium is a versatile word that occupies a unique semantic space in English, with nodes corresponding to ideas of scarcity, superior quality, preference, payment, and reward. The ways in which the usage of premium has changed in the last century or so have given premium a kind of circuit-training workout, allowing it to exercise its meanings vigorously at each of these nodes at different times.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Celebrating Labor (and Labour) Day

On the first Monday in September, the United States observes Labor Day, while Canadians celebrate Labour Day. If you want to know why labour is the accepted spelling in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries like Canada, while Americans prefer labor (and color, favor, honor, humor, and neighbor), check out this classic Word Routes column by Ben Zimmer.
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We've been keeping tabs on the fuss over the word "literally" over the past couple of weeks, as commentators have expressed indignation that the non-literal definition of the word can be found in both online and print dictionaries now. In a Washington Post opinion piece, copy editor Bill Walsh, a self-identified "enlightened stickler," ruminates on the "literally" debate, which he thinks is overblown despite his own peevishness over misuse of the word.  Continue reading...
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Neither you nor I set the "rules" of English; we do it together, by using words in certain ways. But we do learn certain "rules," and we can either remember them, forget them, or ignore them. For example, most of us learned that "neither" and "nor" were a pair, like Lucy and Ricky, or peanut butter and jelly.  Continue reading...
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9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 559 Articles