1 2 3 4 Displaying 8-14 of 24 Articles

It's a popularly held idea that dictionary writers have the power to add words to the lexicon when in fact language is changed the by people who use it and the job of the lexigrographer is to take note. Our own Ben Zimmer revisits this distinction in a look at a recent episode of the Nickelodeon teen comedy "Sam & Cat," in which the titular characters take on word-creation head on.  Continue reading...
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Wit lovers rejoice! There's a new edition (the fifth) of The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations. Gyles Brandreth has taken the editorial reins from the late Ned Sherrin, and the new edition fine-tunes what was already an impressive and entertaining reference work.  Continue reading...
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In the spirit of New Year's resolutions like quit smoking, lose weight, exercise more, each January brings new calls to ban words, the linguistic equivalent of losing weight. But while New Year's resolutions are self-imposed — I decide that an hour on the elliptical watching Sherlock would be better than an hour on the couch with Sherlock and a bowl of chips — word bans tend to be imposed by someone else.  Continue reading...
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The Best Punctuation Marks in Literature

On New York Magazine's Vulture blog, Kathryn Schulz has compiled what she considers the five best uses of punctuation in the history of literature. From the colon in Dickens's A Christmas Carol ("Marley was dead: to begin with") to the ellipses in T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," it's a fascinating list. Read it here.
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When Run Run Shaw, a giant of the Hong Kong entertainment industry, died earlier this month at the ripe old age of 106, I took the opportunity to look at a term with which he was intimately connected: kung fu. In the 1970s, martial-arts movies from the Shaw Brothers studio (and its Hong Kong rival, Golden Harvest) firmly planted kung fu in the global consciousness. But I was surprised to learn that kung fu as we know it was actually born on American soil.  Continue reading...
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Here's a riddle for you: How is clothing similar to a bomb that doesn't detonate or a seed that doesn't sprout? No, the answer is not "They're all useless." (Sorry, nudists.) Rather, they all share a single label: duds.  Continue reading...
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Recently Lynne Truss, professional pedant, declared in her Telegraph column that English is "doomed."

Her proof? Someone wrote "It maybe time to act on this" in an email to her.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 8-14 of 24 Articles