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Yesterday we heard from University of Illinois English professor Dennis Baron on the announcement of new words added to Merriam-Webster's dictionary. Here is another perspective, from Baltimore Sun copy editor John E. McIntyre, who argues that journalists reporting on new words often misconstrue the purpose of dictionaries.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Lingua Franca: Language and Writing in Academe

The Chronicle of Higher Education has launched a group blog called "Lingua Franca: Language and Writing in Academe." The all-star lineup of bloggers includes Geoffrey K. Pullum, Ben Yagoda, Allan Metcalf, Carol Fisher Saller, and Lucy Ferris. In the first post, Metcalf debunks the notion that sentences should never start with "and" or "but." Read it here.

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It's back to school, and that means it's time for dictionaries to trot out their annual lists of new words. Dictionary-maker Merriam-Webster recently released a list of 150 words just added to its new Collegiate Dictionary for 2011, including cougar, a middle-aged woman seeking a romantic relationship with a younger man, boomerang child, a young adult who returns to live at home for financial reasons, and social media -- if you don't know what that means, then you're still living in the last century.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Words With No Letters?

Is it possible for a word to have no alphabetic letters? Stan Carey, a regular Visual Thesaurus contributor, considers the question on his blog, Sentence First. Among the no-letter words he examines are +1 ("plus one"), 1337 ("leet"), @ ("at"), and ♥ ("heart"). Read his blog post here.
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Margaret Hundley Parker teaches writing at the college level, and for the new school year she's finding inspiration from an unlikely source: songs by the band Talking Heads (and Radiohead and The Doors, too). Find out why she thinks writing teachers should start their year by "burning down the house."  Continue reading...
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How can researching the origins of first names help students introduce themselves to one another and to some important concepts of word study?  Continue reading...
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This week's worksheet asks students to examine the meanings of some familiar words beginning with the prefix tele- and to infer the meaning of its ancient Greek origin.  Continue reading...
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