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With Election Day behind us, everyone in my swing-state household can breathe their respective sighs of relief, savoring the sudden absence of all the recorded campaign phone calls, all the back-to-back TV commercials for Romney and Obama, all the emails pleading that one candidate or another just needs 8 more dollars from each of us by the end of the day. And we can stop hearing about the fact-checking organization Politifact's truth rankings for claims made in commercials, debates, and stump speeches.  Continue reading...

Ever since hippies embraced it in the '60s, granola has always had countercultural connotations. In the years since it took the country by storm, the words crunchy and granola, together and even individually, have come to act as shorthand adjectives to describe people with a streak of cultural rebellion, from vegetarians and war protesters in the '70s to hybrid electric car drivers and vaccine-rejecting parents in the 2000s.  Continue reading...

As my sons Doug and Adam have spent more time surfing the Internet, they've seen plenty of examples of people leaving insulting comments on Facebook pages or YouTube videos just to get a reaction out of other people, who don't realize they're being played. They've also picked up the vocabulary for this kind of behavior: trolling. I've been familiar with the concept of trolling for 20 years now, but it turns out to have undergone some changes during that time.  Continue reading...

The newest Spider-Man movie is in the theaters, with a new director, new cast, and new take on Spider-Man's origin story that invites us to forget the one presented to us back in 2002. In other words, it's not a sequel, but a reboot. In August, the remake of Total Recall arrives... or is it a reimagining? What exactly is the difference between remakes, reboots, and reimaginings?  Continue reading...

In a class for speakers of English as a foreign language, Neal Whitman found himself teaching odd five-verb forms like "will have been being seen" and "would have been being seen." How did we end up with such unusual verb pile-ups?  Continue reading...

As a teenager, I got the impression that an easy way to make any insult extra-offensive was to say it carelessly, as if you were drunk. But eventually I realized that a slur is not a mumbled remark expressing general disrespect about someone. On the other hand, even the most carefully enunciated insult can qualify as a slur, provided it's grounded in race, religion, or other historical bases for discrimination.  Continue reading...

We're coming up on National Grammar Day (it's March 4th, as in "march forth"), so we asked our resident linguist Neal Whitman to tackle a topic sure to warm the cockles of grammar-lovers' hearts: helping verbs! But how many are there? And can you fit them all into a catchy song?  Continue reading...

2 3 4 5 6 Displaying 22-28 of 124 Articles