9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 545 Articles

The long-running battle between descriptivists and prescriptivists involves many arguments about whether particular points of usage are right or wrong. Plenty of arguments boil down to "Just because everybody does it doesn't make it right!" I've occasionally asked, "So what would make it right?" but I've never received a real answer.  Continue reading...
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Claire Hardaker, a linguist at Lancaster University in the U.K., recently published a survey of "trolling," i.e., "behavior of being deliberately antagonistic or offensive via computer-mediated communication (CMC), typically for amusement's sake." In the wake of the media attention her work has received, Hardaker considers the varying definitions people have for the word "troll."  Continue reading...
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Last month, I introduced the idea of a zombie rule: a false grammar rule that is taught and followed slavishly as though it were the real thing. Like their namesakes, these rules have no life in them, but they keep returning no matter how many times their true form is revealed.  Continue reading...
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One man "pleaded guilty to DWI." Another "pled guilty of DWI." A third "entered a plea of guilty to DWI charges."

What's going on, aside from way too much drinking?  Continue reading...
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The New York Times recently posted an opinion piece and a short film about a "vigilante copy editor" who was "correcting" placards at the sculpture garden at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Among the hundreds of comments lamenting the proliferation of bad grammar and misspellings in the world were the inevitable swipes at the grammar and spelling of the other commenters, as well as that of The Times.  Continue reading...
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Lexicographer Hugh Rawson died recently. Among other accomplishments, he wrote Rawson's Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Doubletalk, a monumental, essential look at euphemisms that every language-lover should own. I can't recommend it enough.  Continue reading...
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"How long did you have to queue up?" I asked my brother about a concert he'd attended, just after I got back from a trip to the UK. "You're back in America now, Shannon," he teased me. "We don't queue up here, we line up!" He had a point, but I'd like to think my word choice was not merely the result of my Anglophile tendencies.  Continue reading...
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9 10 11 12 13 Displaying 71-77 of 545 Articles