Displaying 1-5 of 5 Articles

It's mind-boggling that many people who profess to love language have bizarre, backwards ideas about it based on superstition and hokum. Educated folks who mock evolution-deniers have no problem believing equally unsupported ideas about language—such as "English is worse than ever!" and "Words shouldn't change!"  Continue reading...
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Whenever I talk about the benefits of the crappy first draft some people always object. Why? For some, it's a habit and — as anyone who's tried to quit smoking can tell you — habits are hard to break. But for others the problem is fear.  Continue reading...
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Are you a dreamer? I've had a few myself. That one where my pet lizard Ronnie convinced me to betray humanity to the alien lizards who control all governments was a doozy. Betraying Earth is one thing, but I would never have a pet lizard! But that's not the kind of dreamer that made a few recent headlines. Rather, a dreamer is an undocumented immigrant, usually a young person, who may have been brought to the U.S. as a child.  Continue reading...
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All avid readers have their own favorite writers. Yours may be Daniel Defoe or Charles Dickens, Vladimir Nabokov or Ogden Nash, Agatha Christie or Anton Chekhov, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway, P. G. Wodehouse or A. A. Milne, Philip Roth or Stephen King; whom you love matters little. What does matter is that something in the style, the subject, or the subtleties of one or another writer so matches your own passions and quirks that you fall in love with that writer, and year after year you keep returning to enjoy his or her cordial company.  Continue reading...
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Zero derivation—that is, the ability of a word to perform different grammatical functions without a change in form—is a celebrated feature of English. A sideshow of zero derivation is the fact that English has no barrier to using a principal verb form—the past participle—as an adjective. What's not to love, you may think, about the simplicity of using a single form to do so many jobs? I have no argument with this fantastic and flexible feature of English, only with the license it gives speakers and writers to use it in a weaselly way.  Continue reading...
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Displaying 1-5 of 5 Articles