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The 85th Scripps National Spelling Bee kicked off yesterday, with 278 spellers getting whittled down to 50 semifinalists who will compete in the nationally televised action on Thursday. A precocious six-year-old didn't make the cut, but an old friend of ours, Nicholas Rushlow of Pickerington, Ohio, will be back in the thick of it for his fifth consecutive year.  Continue reading...
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In a class for speakers of English as a foreign language, Neal Whitman found himself teaching odd five-verb forms like "will have been being seen" and "would have been being seen." How did we end up with such unusual verb pile-ups?  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

The 2012 Spelling Bee is Here!

It's time once again for the Scripps National Spelling Bee! The preliminaries are today, and the nationally televised semifinals and finals are tomorrow (May 31). Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer will be live-tweeting the competition tomorrow on the VT Twitter feed and reporting on the results here in his Word Routes column. In the meantime, read Ben's observations on tricky spelling here and here, and try the super-addictive Visual Thesaurus Spelling Bee!
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For years I've been reading the phrase at/in one fell swoop, and even using it occasionally, without ever examining it closely. I knew what it meant ("all at once"), and that it came from Shakespeare, but only recently did I stop and wonder: What's that fell doing there?  Continue reading...
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On the last Monday in May, Memorial Day is celebrated in the United States. But wait: is celebrated the right word? Would it be more appropriate to say Memorial Day is observed? Wendalyn Nichols, an experienced editor and lexicographer, guides us through this usage quandary.  Continue reading...
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We're revving up for the Indianapolis 500 with a racing-themed crossword puzzle. Solve it and you could win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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Almost 30 years ago, back in the stone ages of 1983 when records debuted on vinyl and the idea of iTunes just another science fiction, my Advanced Placement English teacher Claudine Vignery taught me something I still use today. She taught me that everything is connected. At the end of a unit she'd let us listen to music. She'd pick out a song, put it on the record player, and for around three to four minutes we'd sit quietly and listen.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 28 Articles