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In my last column, I asked several multi-published authors this question: What advice do you wish your English teacher would have given you? Now, in this column, I'm going to share the answers to the second question I asked: What was the most important thing you learned in your English class that had a lasting impact?  Continue reading...
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"I'm trying to stave off a cold," a friend said. Another responded, "Wine will work for that." Neither probably realized that, indeed, to "stave off" has its origins in wine, or something like wine.  Continue reading...
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Earlier this year the Associated Press Stylebook issued one of its frequent updates. "Do not use ride-sharing" to refer to services such as Uber and Lyft, the stylebook counseled; instead, use the modifier ride-booking or ride-hailing. It was the AP's quixotic bid to stem the increasingly common use of sharing to refer to a wide range of activities that are not quite as selfless as the word share may suggest.  Continue reading...
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A group of doctors paid me to edit a report a few years back. Their work — not a medical study, but a document aimed at making a political point — horrified me. When I ran it through readability stats, it earned a grade 14 rating.  Continue reading...
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Writing and reading philosophy are two human activities famous for their inherent difficulty. If philosophy is thinking about thinking, writing philosophy is writing about thinking about thinking, and reading philosophy is reading writing about thinking about thinking.  Continue reading...
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For the latest installment of the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley, I take a look at the peculiar history of the word pumpernickel — a kind of German bread with an origin that turns out to be downright devilish.  Continue reading...
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In The Atlantic, Peter Beinhart called out a euphemism that was somehow common and under-the-radar at the same time: "Newspaper editors, lend me your ears: Please, never allow the phrase 'muscular foreign policy' to blight your pages again."  Continue reading...
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1 2 Displaying 1-7 of 8 Articles