As Veterans Day is observed in the United States, a question of military usage continues to pose a puzzle: if "50,000 troops" refers to 50,000 people, then does "one troop" refer to one person? Linguist Neal Whitman looked into the matter on Veterans Day in 2009. Check out his column here
The Linguistic Society of America today named Vocabulary.com-Visual Thesaurus Executive Producer Ben Zimmer as the first recipient of the Linguistics Journalism Award
. The award honors "the journalist whose work best represents linguistics" during the past 12 months. In addition to his stellar work on Vocabulary.com and the Visual Thesaurus
, the LSA singled out Zimmer's language column in the Wall Street Journal
, as well as "articles on linguistic topics for the Boston Globe
, The Atlantic
, Slate's 'Lexicon Valley' blog, and Language Log."
As Americans celebrate Columbus Day, it's worth reflecting on the complicated cultural and linguistic legacy that Christopher Columbus left behind. There's a single word that aptly illustrates this legacy and all of its contradictions: Indians
, the mistaken name that Columbus gave to the native peoples of the Americas.
On the first Monday in September, the United States observes Labor Day, while Canadians celebrate Labour Day. If you want to know why labour
is the accepted spelling in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries like Canada, while Americans prefer labor
, and neighbor
), check out this classic Word Routes column
by Ben Zimmer.
Earlier this month, the Times Higher Education reported on the practice of "Roget-ing," in which plagiarism is disguised by swapping synonyms found in Roget's Thesaurus for words used in the copied paper. Though untraceable, the resulting language ranges from not quite right to cataclysmically horrible.