The stay-at-home orders of recent months have meant a lot more time to deep-dive into etymologies, and this has led me to reflect on a thing I hadn't noticed as much before: English has a surfeit of expressions for the idea 1 + 1.  Continue reading...

Do the profound insights made by J. L. Austin and Paul Grice have any application to "conversations" in which the traffic in words is by definition all or nearly all one-way?  Continue reading...

We'll all be doing each other a great favor by paying most of our attention to the substance of what others say, and the least of our attention to the way they say it.  Continue reading...

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the merger of four railroads in the United States to create the longest railroad in the world by number of miles served. I note the anniversary as an item of linguistic curiosity, in light of the many ways that railroads and trains have made their way into popular and figurative English.  Continue reading...

If you've visited the world of online dating you may have noticed the disparities between the ways males and females present themselves, and the disparities between the ways that they seem to want to appear to each other.  Continue reading...

We are now far beyond the day when a product might be distinguished from its competitors with descriptors such as mild, strong, or rich. Lately I'm noticing what is surely a very common trope in consumer marketing: the enhancement of an adjectival descriptor for a product by introducing it with an adverbial.  Continue reading...

John Donne's poem The Undertaking, published in the early 17th century, suggests that forgetting the he and she would be "a braver thing than all the Worthies did." In a way, that is the same problem that's currently being considered in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Continue reading...

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