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Blog Excerpts

The True Story of "Jumping the Shark"

"Jumping the shark," a phrase used to describe the moment a TV series goes downhill, alludes to a notorious episode of "Happy Days." Now the writer of the episode has spoken out in the Los Angeles Times. Read the story behind the phrase here.
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Though I accepted long ago that there's no grammar in rock and roll, it's always bothered me that the Doors' otherwise splendid "Touch Me" contains the lyric "Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I" (at the crescendo of the song, no less). Of course it should be "you and me." But I rationalized, as I like to think the hyper-literate Jim Morrison must have, that "me" does not rhyme with "sky." So what's Lady Gaga's excuse?  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

"Refudiate" and other Top Words of the Summer

The folks at Merriam-Webster have been keeping track of the most looked-up words in their online dictionary this summer. At number one is Sarah Palin's refudiate, which you won't find in any dictionary (yet). Read all about it here, and read about the runners-up here.
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As the summer vacation season draws to a close, we hear about a new entry in the "X-cation" trend from Stan Carey, a professional editor from Ireland who writes entertainingly about the English language on his blog Sentence First.  Continue reading...
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My latest On Language column for The New York Times digs into the currently popular words of instruction, "Man up!" How you interpret it has a lot to do with what exactly you think it means to be a man. As I write in the column, it can mean anything from "Don't be a sissy; toughen up" to "Do the right thing; be a mensch." But the up is just as important as the man, since it connects the expression to a family of imperatives of the "X up" variety, many having to do with accepting responsibility for one's actions.  Continue reading...
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While reading the Aug. 19 Rolling Stone and trying to wrap my brain around Matt Taibbi's latest piece on our country's ongoing financial shenanigans, I stumbled onto an article on Katy Perry, who I know very little about due to my old age.  Continue reading...
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In the Language Lounge, we raise a toast to words that are celebrating their golden jubilee, having made their first appearance in print a half century ago, in the heady days of 1960.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 22-28 of 28 Articles