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I was reading a document at work once and ran across this statement: "Core contracts within the product are interface-based and are easily mockable." My programmer-to-English translation filter was momentarily confused, and for a brief but amusing moment I thought, "You mean, we can laugh at them?"  Continue reading...
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Here are the names of three products currently sold in stores and online: Pout Polish, Pout-à-Porter, Pout-o-matic. Here are three business names from around the United States: Kool Smiles, Smileworks, Smile Wide. And here's a question: What do those names tell you about what's being sold and to whom?  Continue reading...
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The weather is getting warmer, so you might start to see men arrayed in stylishly rumpled seersucker suits (especially in the American South). On the latest installment of Slate's podcast Lexicon Valley, I followed the thread of seersucker all the way back to its Persian roots, and then looked at how both the fabric and the word spread around the world.   Continue reading...
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Presidents, more than any other individuals, symbolize the values and ethos of the United States. Their words, whether proclamation or prattle, have been better preserved than the words of many who surrounded them, so I thought it would be interesting to look at the ways in which presidents through the centuries have expressed their ideas about religion in speech and writing.  Continue reading...
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In The Atlantic, Peter Beinhart called out a euphemism that was somehow common and under-the-radar at the same time: "Newspaper editors, lend me your ears: Please, never allow the phrase 'muscular foreign policy' to blight your pages again."  Continue reading...
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Imagine yourself among the travelers to North America 500 or more years ago, arriving initially by ship as the earliest European explorers did, but equipped with the trained sensibility of a modern linguist.  Continue reading...
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As keynote speaker at the 2015 American Copy Editors Society meeting, lexicographer Ben Zimmer showed off the resources in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary as part of a talk on "Nitpickery, Debunkage, and the Joys of Getting It Right." Not surprisingly, ACES attendees live-tweeting the address were more likely to take note of Zimmer's singing, rapping, and discussion of language anachronisms in "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey."  Continue reading...
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4 5 6 7 8 Displaying 36-42 of 840 Articles