At a time when every civilized man carried a sonnet to his secret lover tucked into a back pocket, Shakespeare's sonnets out-swooned every other swoon-seeker's, and Sonnet 116 "Let me not to the marriage of true minds," has remained a favorite of lovers everywhere. For Valentine's Day, master some tricky words using our Sonnet 116 Vocabulary List.  Continue reading...
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Last night, Jon Stewart announced that he will be retiring from Comedy Central's The Daily Show. We'll miss Stewart and his writing team for lots of reasons. But as dedicated vocabularians, we'll be especially sorry to see the end of Stewart's skewering of overhyped news through clever use of word blending, known as portmanteaus.  Continue reading...
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2015 is the International Year of Light. The Language Lounge will observe the solemnity of the occasion in a more low-tech way, by taking up the idea of light in language. It's one of the most productive concepts for metaphor in English.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

A Junior Dictionary Kerfuffle

"The lexicographic kerfuffle, thank goodness, isn't dead," writes Stefan Fatsis in The New Yorker. Fatsis is referring to the recent controversy over the Oxford Junior Dictionary, which has substituted all-natural words like "almond," "blackberry," and "minnow," with such 21st-century fare as "blog," "chatroom," and "database." Some noted writers have said they are "profoundly alarmed" by the changes. Read all about it here.
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Language allows us to communicate the ideas in our heads with other people. It is a main way we connect with the world around us. Because of that, language becomes very personal to each user. We form affinities for individual words because of what they mean to us.  Continue reading...
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Six years running, the logophiles at Wayne State University, a.k.a. the Wayne State Word Warriors, have curated a crowd-sourced list of rare words that "deserve a bit more love." These are words that used to be commonly known and are still useful, but have started to drop out of the English lexicon. Wayne State Warriors' mission? To bring them back.  Continue reading...
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The American Dialect Society made its 25th annual selection for Word of the Year, and for the first time the winner was actually a Twitter hashtag: #blacklivesmatter. Even though the socially conscious slogan is formed by combining three words, as a hashtag it was converted into something linguistically innovative, attracting the attention of the assorted language scholars who gathered for the vote at the society's annual meeting in Portland, Oregon.  Continue reading...
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