The language used by the National Pastime is wonderful and strange (and not all food-related) - there are things you can say in baseball that you wouldn't say anywhere anywhere else.  Continue reading...
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Captain America: Civil War is a hit film at the early summer box office, having recently surpassed 1 billion dollars in worldwide ticket sales. The film raises a lot of questions. A basic question can be answered well before that having to do with the language of the title: How can a War be Civil?  Continue reading...
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This month marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Miranda v. Arizona. The decision, handed down on June 13, 1966, ushered vocabulary into American English that is in nearly everyone's lexicon today, including Miranda Rights, Miranda Warnings, and even the verb mirandize, which means "recite the Miranda warnings (to a person under arrest)". Nearly 10 years after Miranda, philosopher of language Paul Grice began to develop his theory of conversational implicature and the Gricean Maxims that are part and parcel of it.  Continue reading...
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If you're looking for proof of the English language's remarkable flexibility, enter the word hack into the New York Times's search field. The newest results will include a mention of "hack politicians" and a reference to "the suspected hack of Sony Pictures by North Korea" in 2014.  Continue reading...
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Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential candidate, briefly made headlines last month when it was announced that she'd signed a production deal for a TV "reality" show set in a courtroom. "She'll preside over the courtroom of common sense," according to Larry Lyttle, the man behind the deal. If the show materializes, it won't be the first time a politician has claimed "common sense" as a preeminent virtue.  Continue reading...
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After last month's keen analysis of remix—perhaps the most obnoxious euphemism for a layoff ever—fellow contributor Nancy Friedman tweeted me another example from this bottomless genre: "A friend was told that her layoff was 'a continuation of growth that was started in the department a couple of years ago.'"  Continue reading...
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While college basketball fans may be marveling at the exciting upsets of March Madness, the world of competitive crossword solving has experienced a major upset as well, as six-time reigning champion Dan Feyer was dethroned in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, losing out to first-time champ Howard Barkin.  Continue reading...
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