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We love to "range." When describing a new shopping mall, for example, an article might say: "It has everything from a roller coaster for the kiddies to high-end boutiques for fashionistas." The "from" and "to" implies a "range," and a range implies that "everything" will be along that line. But the only thing the roller coaster and boutique have in common is that they are inside this new mall. It’s a "false range."  Continue reading...
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I realized something this summer. When I reflected back on my years as a teacher, I realized something. Everything I did revolved around one principle that was simple, and when you really think about it, rather profound. It's about the kids.  Continue reading...
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The 2012 Summer Olympics are kicking off in London, so we have an Olympics-themed crossword puzzle for you. If you can solve it, you might win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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Via Twitter, theatre director Jen Bender posed a question that had recently come up in conversation: "A married man's lover is his mistress. What's the name for a woman's illicit lover?" Searching for an answer to that question points to the many gender-related asymmetries in English.  Continue reading...
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We welcome back James Harbeck for another installment of his "Word Tasting Notes." Here he considers the subtle distinction between a "bookstore" and a "bookshop."  Continue reading...
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Novelist and journalist Jennifer Miller has been thinking about a recent scandal involving New York high school students cheating on their exams. She argues that one thing is clear from the scandal itself, and the reactions it engendered: we live in a culture of shortcuts, with ill-formed thoughts expressed in equally ill-formed language.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

The Forensic Linguist and the "Devil's Strip"

An article in The New Yorker about forensic linguistics tells the story of how the phrase "devil's strip" in a ransom note pinpointed the writer to Akron, Ohio. The forensic linguist, Roger Shuy, figured that out with the help of The Dictionary of American Regional English. Harvard University Press Blog provides the details here.
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 25 Articles