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Two years ago on Halloween, resident linguist Neal Whitman explored the origin of the word Halloween. Just in time for the candy and costumes, we're revisiting his questions: how and why did eve turn into e'en? For that matter, what is a hallow? Why did the all get dropped?  Continue reading...
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Last night, the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses held its annual Spelling Bee in New York, supporting the work of independent literary publishers, and once again the Visual Thesaurus was proud to play a part. For the sixth consecutive year, the VT supplied the words that challenged the literary contestants. This year, the British novelist Patrick McGrath emerged victorious.  Continue reading...
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Mansplaining — a fella explaining something, unnecessarily and often incorrectly, with oodles of condescension — is as old as the hills. The word itself has been around since about 2009, but it's blossomed since, providing a potent weapon in women's arsenal against overbearing dudes.  Continue reading...
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In English language learning, most course books introduce verb tenses in a highly regimented fashion. As a result, many teachers who want to use short narratives for their elementary classes feel stymied because the linguistic devices from which stories are made don't follow the strict order prescribed by the course books. "It will confuse the students" is the most common cry to be heard. But this is wrong: it will not confuse the students at all.  Continue reading...
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For the October edition of the Visual Thesaurus crossword puzzle, we've got a Halloween-themed crossword. Figure it out and you could win a Visual Thesaurus T-shirt!  Continue reading...
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For two weeks we highlighted phrases that are written from what people hear, sometimes with amusing results. A reader asked: "Aren't all those [examples] mondegreens, like 'very close veins' when 'varicose veins' is meant?" Yes and know.  Continue reading...
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Recently a reader of the Copyediting newsletter (which I edit) asked me about the phrase take a decision. Shouldn't it be make a decision? In researching the answer, I learned that make and take were examples of "light verbs." It's a concept that few besides linguists are concerned with, if my research is accurate, but one that if writers were more aware of could have a profound effect on their writing.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 1-7 of 24 Articles