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Blog Excerpts

Best Word Ever: "Diphthong"?

For months now, copywriter/illustrator Ted McCagg has been holding a "Best Word Ever" competition on his blog, pairing off words in single-elimination showdowns. Winners have been whimsically selected in different brackets, ultimately leading to a final round pitting gherkin against diphthong. And now diphthong has emerged victorious. For more on the curious word, see Neal Whitman's column, "Oy, You Diphthong!"
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I like collecting quotes about writing. A while ago, I stumbled across this one attributed to Albert Einstein: "Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." How is that a quote about writing, you ask? Let me give you five reasons...  Continue reading...
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"Calling a work of art ordinary is not ordinarily considered praise," Michael Lydon writes, "but I use the term as a lustrous laurel wreath." In particular, he singles out Anthony Trollope as a master of using language to depict ordinary human life: "not what we think life would, should, or could be like, but what life truly is like."  Continue reading...
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Journalists writing about performers and athletes often use the word "journeyman." But Merrill Perlman, who writes the "Language Corner" column for Columbia Journalism Review, has a word of warning: "While it's OK to call an experienced person a 'journeyman,' beware: The word can imply 'undistinguished,' or worse."  Continue reading...
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Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic National Convention, in which he nominated President Obama for re-election, has been hailed as a rhetorical tour de force. The press corps marveled at how Clinton used the prepared speech as a mere starting point, injecting his remarks with ad-libbed folksiness. The result was a speech that managed to elucidate wonky policy specifics in the homespun style of a Southern preacher.  Continue reading...
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It's one of the enduring cross-cultural culinary conundrums: Why are packaged potato snacks called chips in the US and crisps in the UK? The answer is equal parts history, legend, and marketing savvy. And the spudscape is getting more complicated as cultural boundaries dissolve and the snack-food industry grows more creative and prolific.  Continue reading...
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When it comes to the indelicate matter of pregnancy, English speakers are constantly coming up with creative circumlocutions for the condition of expecting women. In his latest monthly installment of under-the-radar euphemisms, Mark Peters takes a look at some of the more outrageous gestational obfuscations.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 15-21 of 25 Articles