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With the presidential candidates out on the hustings, we have a campaign-related crossword for you. Figure out the word chain and you could win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Mysteries of Vernacular

Here's a project we can get behind: Mysteries of Vernacular, which presents etymological stories behind common words via beautiful papercraft animation. One word per letter of the alphabet is planned: so far they've finished assassin, clue, hearse, and pants. Check 'em out.
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In my most recent column for the Boston Globe, I poke fun at new advertising slogans that Apple is using for its iPod line: the latest iPod Nano is "Completely Renanoed," while the iPod Touch is "Engineered for Maximum Funness." Whereas renanoed at least shows a modicum of creativity (turning Nano into a verb capable of taking the re- prefix), funness seems to be an unnecessarily cutesy elaboration on plain old fun. But hang on: can we make a distinction between fun and funness?  Continue reading...
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"You must be a ringer," the journalism instructor told the student, who insisted that, though he had many years of experience in other jobs, he had never been a journalist. "I admit I had to look that term up," the student said later." I wasn't sure if it calling me a ringer was a compliment or an insult."  Continue reading...
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In honor of National Punctuation Day, the Atlantic Wire asked "a few of our favorite writers and word-minded folks around the web" to name their favorite punctuation marks. Among the contributors was our own Ben Zimmer. Find out Ben's response and those of some other punctuation-loving writers below.  Continue reading...
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An ongoing struggle in the English Language Arts classroom is improving students' spelling habits. We educators know that good spelling is a crucial skill; is there anything more likely to derail a résumé or essay than a spelling error? Yet it's also a skill that requires assiduous practice on the part of our students.  Continue reading...
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This week, there have been many celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the emoticon, the now-ubiquitous use of punctuation marks to mark emotion in online text. On September 19, 1982, at 11:44 a.m., Scott Fahlman posted a message to a Carnegie Mellon bulletin board, proposing that :-) be used for marking jokes and :-( for non-jokes. Though Fahlman should get full credit for these pioneering smiley and frowny faces, there were in fact much earlier pioneers in expressive typography.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 25 Articles