2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 198 Articles

When Run Run Shaw, a giant of the Hong Kong entertainment industry, died earlier this month at the ripe old age of 106, I took the opportunity to look at a term with which he was intimately connected: kung fu. In the 1970s, martial-arts movies from the Shaw Brothers studio (and its Hong Kong rival, Golden Harvest) firmly planted kung fu in the global consciousness. But I was surprised to learn that kung fu as we know it was actually born on American soil.  Continue reading...
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Here's a riddle for you: How is clothing similar to a bomb that doesn't detonate or a seed that doesn't sprout? No, the answer is not "They're all useless." (Sorry, nudists.) Rather, they all share a single label: duds.  Continue reading...
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Ready for a ghost story? In the latest installment of his "Word Tasting Notes," James Harbeck has a ghost story about the word ghost.

This word has a ghost in it, a little guest in the host: a letter h, symbol of a soft breath, here seen but not heard — like many a spectre.  Continue reading...
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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was just released today. You can tell from the title that in this movie, someone's going to get desolated, and desolated but good. But who? Does Smaug desolate someone, or does someone desolate Smaug? What does desolate mean, anyway?  Continue reading...
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Oh, to be svelte. To be as light as felt, a suave fellow or a lass as light as a velleity, not swelling like Elvis but sweltering hot: no thicker than the drop of sweat that falls down your brow at the sight or the plucked eyebrows of a stylish lady. And stylish, yes, svelte always seems stylish, fitted, bespoke tailored.  Continue reading...
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On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Americans kick off the holiday shopping season with a bang. We look back to a Word Routes column by lexicographer Ben Zimmer exploring the origins of the phrase "Black Friday." It is not, as many believe, the day when retailers' balance sheets change from red to black.  Continue reading...
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Imitation for a good reason, imitation for a stupid reason, or imitation just by instinct: "Monkey see, monkey do" covers them all. But what's with the non-standard grammar? Why isn't it "Monkey sees, monkey does"? Or "What a monkey sees, it does?"  Continue reading...
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2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 198 Articles