1 2 3 4 Displaying 8-14 of 22 Articles

Easter, which this year falls on April 20, is an important religious holiday for millions of Christians. It's also a major candy holiday, now second only to Halloween in the United States. But there's more to Easter candy than sugar and food dye: there's also some fascinating linguistic and brand history.  Continue reading...
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Ever since College Board President David Coleman announced that the redesigned SAT would replace its testing of more obscure words such as mendacious or treacly with the analysis of more frequent, multiple-meaning words in context, educators have been fretting about what this may mean for the study of vocabulary and for the precision of the next generation of American students' English in general.  Continue reading...
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One of the things everyone remembers about Shakespeare, whether they spent a few weeks on one play in high school or an entire semester on several plays in college, is that he wrote in iambic pentameter. Some may also have vague recollections about their teacher explaining that iambic pentameter isn't difficult to understand, because English "naturally" falls into its rhythms.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

"Staycation," "Bleisure," and Other Made-Up Travel Words

Is the travel industry particularly susceptible to making up words like "bleisure" (combining "business" and "leisure") and "staycation" (for a stay-at-home vacation)? Associated Press travel reporter Beth J. Harpaz investigates — with help from our own Ben Zimmer, who says that such neologisms "come in handy in a business sector where there's often a need to come up with clever marketing spin." Read the AP article here.
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Whorfianism — the idea that language shapes thought, and each language creates a distinct worldview — is an appealing idea. But there's one problem: Whorfianism, at least dogmatic Whorfianism, is a huge load of bunk, at least according to John McWhorter's new book The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language.  Continue reading...
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I was born a night owl. I used to think 2 am was the perfect bedtime and I resented having to get up before 8:30. Paradoxically (or perhaps I mean, annoyingly), I had to be at work by 6 am in the years I worked as a senior newspaper editor. I loved my job but I was miserable, sleepwise.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

Scrabble Showdown: "Zen" Versus... "Geocache"?

In Hasbro's "Scrabble Word Showdown," fans of the game have been narrowing down candidates for a new word to include the game's soon-to-be-revised official dictionary. Two finalists are left standing: zen (which many Scrabblers have been requesting), and... geocache, the recipient of a big get-out-the-vote effort by fans of the high-tech treasure hunt known as "geocaching." See the latest from Hasbro here, and read Caitlin Dewey's take in the Washington Post here. Update: And the winner is... geocache!
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1 2 3 4 Displaying 8-14 of 22 Articles