As I read Jane Austen, the question that is ever in the back of my mind is, how did she do it? Surprisingly, computers are quite helpful in discovering some of the aspects of Austen's writing that make it distinctive in the wide field of English fiction.  Continue reading...
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In the past year, fake news has gained currency as well as a new sense: Not only can it signify "disinformation or falsehoods spread as real news" – but it has also come to mean "actual news that is claimed to be untrue" if it's perceived as unflattering.  Continue reading...
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Martin Luther is a fascinating study for any lover of language because his entire conflict with and banishment from Catholicism were conducted through speech and writing.  Continue reading...
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When judges cite dictionaries, especially as a way of underpinning or justifying a particular decision, the dictionary is suddenly elevated to a position of influence that it did not previously enjoy.  Continue reading...
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When I open an email that a spam filter has misdirected I'm rarely in doubt about whether it is or isn't spam, and the basis of my certainty is nearly always linguistic. For me, the reasons that spam fails so colossally to convince can be divided into two convenient categories of linguistic analysis: lexical and pragmatic.  Continue reading...
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The American Dialect Society will be meeting in early January to present papers and share research about our ever-evolving language. They'll also pick the Word of the Year, along with many other categories—including Euphemism of the Year. Here's a list of suggested contenders.  Continue reading...
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When I recently heard a news reporter say that "China doesn't want a failed nuclear state on their doorstep," I was taken by surprise. Did China seriously want North Korea to succeed in their nuclear ambitions?  Continue reading...
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