6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 748 Articles

Jonathon Owen is a copy editor and student of linguistics who "holds the paradoxical view that it's possible to be a prescriptivist and descriptivist simultaneously." Here, he looks at how people can get tripped up on words with unusual plural forms like phenomena.  Continue reading...
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Last week, usage guru Bryan A. Garner collected a list of business-speak or "bizspeak" to avoid and posted it to the Harvard Business Review blog. What he describes as "vogueish" and "hyperformal" vocabulary makes an easy target.  Continue reading...
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The city of Providence, RI is embarking on a bold initiative to narrow the "word gap": young children in families of lower socioeconomic status tend to hear fewer words in their home environment than higher-income counterparts, leading to inequalities in academic success when they enter school. Providence has won a $5 million grant to address this problem by means of a high-tech vocabulary intervention program, as our own Ben Zimmer writes in his latest Boston Globe column.  Continue reading...
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The pope gets to wear nice red shoes, and a friend said, "I'm really jealous of those!" But, technically, she couldn't be jealous, unless she thought the shoes were hers, and the pope had stolen them. Instead, she "envied" the shoes, and was "envious" that he gets to wear them.  Continue reading...
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Scalawag, "a deceitful and unreliable scoundrel," is a fun word to say. It sounds like something a pirate on the high seas might call a rival. In fact, it originated in western New York in the 1830s, and a young genealogy buff recently turned up some fascinating early evidence on the word when he was investigating an ancestor.  Continue reading...
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This is a topical word: the cardinal electors have just spent two days locked into their pressure-cooker, the Sistine Chapel, to determine who will bear the keys of St. Peter. They were all sequestered in the Vatican, that enclave in the middle of the Eternal City, locked in debate and prayer and voting. Literally locked in: the doors of the Sistine Chapel were locked.  Continue reading...
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Etymology — the roots (or, etymologically speaking, seeds) of words — can sound like a pretty dry pursuit if you aren't a word farmer by trade. But knowing a word's derivation has all kinds of benefits. It can make you a better, more nuanced communicator, of course, and if you happen to find words fascinating and beautiful, it can heighten your, ahem, textual pleasure.  Continue reading...
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6 7 8 9 10 Displaying 50-56 of 748 Articles