1 2 Displaying 1-7 of 9 Articles

My husband and I had a plethora of reasons for rebuilding our house five years ago. One reason was that we wanted to head into our retirement years without having to worry about upkeep for a 100-year-old house.  Continue reading...
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Since fiction writers can conjure up big chunks of a text by consulting only their imaginations, we often think of fiction as more personal than nonfiction. But when reading the most fact-based nonfiction, I and many readers still want to connect one-to-one, soul-to-soul, with the writer as well as with the characters.  Continue reading...
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Some years ago, there was a series of stories in a magazine about dates that did not go well. In one of the stories, a woman met her date at a Mexican restaurant. When they ordered dinner, her companion asked for tortillas, but he pronounced the word "dor-dee-yas." Although he did not know it, the hapless gentleman's pronunciation proved to be a shibboleth that meant there would be no second date, and got me thinking about other encounters we may have with shibboleths in our personal experience.  Continue reading...
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For the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley, I explored the peculiar origins of the word boondoggle, which took a strange trip from the world of Boy Scouts to the world of politics 80 years ago.  Continue reading...
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"Verbing weirds language." Ad copywriters have made the weirding of language – and especially the verbing of nouns – a signal feature of the current brandscape. They're only the most visible of the language-weirders who are making the culture more expressive... or more vexing, depending on your point of view.  Continue reading...
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On Minnesota Public Radio, our executive editor Ben Zimmer explored the problematic history of the word refugee, now frequently heard in media accounts of the European migration crisis.  Continue reading...
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In his latest batch of under-the-radar euphemisms, Mark Peters introduces such linguistic doozies as "ethical cheating," an oxymoronic term that came to light after the Ashley Madison hacking hubbub.  Continue reading...
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1 2 Displaying 1-7 of 9 Articles