1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 585 Articles

Over the weekend, The New York Times presented an interactive quiz on newly prominent slang terms entitled "Are You On Fleek?" But what does "on fleek" mean, and how did it get to be such a trendy expression, especially on social media? Our resident linguist Neal Whitman investigates.  Continue reading...
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In January, I took part in an interesting discussion on Twitter. Washington Post copyeditor Bill Walsh posted a headline: "Hole-in-the-walls: East, west, and downtown, 19 named." He asked, "Would you take your sister-in-laws to such a place?"  Continue reading...
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The story of Steve Henderson — a software engineer bent on single-handedly fixing every use of the word comprise in Wikipedia entries where compose would be more appropriate — has captured the popular imagination. Yesterday, Southern California Public Radio invited our own Ben Zimmer to explain the difference and weigh in on the wisdom of Henderson's quest.  Continue reading...
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Turns out the American Dialect Society callously disregarded my selection of conscious uncoupling (Gwyneth Paltrow's cuckoo-bananas term for divorce) for Euphemism of the Year. Instead, these linguists, lexicographers, word mavens, and rogue wordanistas selected EIT: an abbreviation of enhanced interrogation techniques, which is a euphemism of a euphemism.  Continue reading...
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On the surface, and/or seems like a helpful but mostly harmless little phrase — a little ugly, perhaps, but still useful for those times when you want to be extra clear about what all the options are. Most people associate the phrase with legal writing, but it turns out that a surprising number of lawyers and judges hate it, claiming that it's actually unclear and thus impossible to interpret.  Continue reading...
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It's never easy picking a Euphemism of the Year. For 2014, it feels like a four-horse race—or should I say a four-pronged equine competition. My picks for EOTY are a Gwyneth Paltrow special and three other mounds of mumbo-jumbo. Read them and weep for clear, honest, non-sneaky language.  Continue reading...
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I occasionally teach a class about using Microsoft Word. In one of the class exercises, students are asked to format a page, and the instructions tell them to "outdent" a heading. After I got several questions about that each class, I realized that lots of people have no idea what the term means.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 585 Articles