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Intensive purposes? Slight of hand? Linguist Adam Cooper contemplates phrases whose meanings are in transition as we replace unfamiliar words fossilized with language that sounds more reasonable to our modern ears.  Continue reading...
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Do you like sowing your wild oaks? Do you sometimes feel like a social leopard? Could you use a new leaf on life? Or do you just enjoy the infinite creativity of the English language, even when people make mistakes? If you answered yes to any of the above, you need to check out Robert Alden Rubin's terrific new book Going to Hell in a Hen Basket: An Illustrated Dictionary of Modern Malapropisms.  Continue reading...
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Have you encountered a transition counselor lately? I hope not. In the real world, a transition counselor is a diabolical euphemism for a profession made famous by George Clooney's character in Up in the Air: someone who fires people for a living. But in Matt Kindt's extraordinary conspiracy thriller Mind MGMT, the term has an even darker sense: assassin.  Continue reading...
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On Minnesota Public Radio, our executive editor Ben Zimmer explored the problematic history of the word refugee, now frequently heard in media accounts of the European migration crisis.  Continue reading...
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In his latest batch of under-the-radar euphemisms, Mark Peters introduces such linguistic doozies as "ethical cheating," an oxymoronic term that came to light after the Ashley Madison hacking hubbub.  Continue reading...
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We're in the middle of one of the most important transitions in a democracy: from one Batman to another. But as the era of Ben Affleck (Batfleck) rapidly approaches, former Batman Christian Bale recently offered wise words to his successor on how he should be able to relieve himself.  Continue reading...
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Whether you like or loathe it, I bet you've noticed the return of –mentum: a suffix that fills the Internet during election season much as a sulfurous smell fills hell. This suffix is also a terrific reminder of a sad truth: the media will never, ever treat a presidential election as anything more than a sporting event with fewer concussions.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 8-14 of 603 Articles