It's time to dive headfirst into that confoundingest of subjects: the formation of comparatives and superlatives.  Continue reading...
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In many ways, Prohibition was a social and legal failure, but in one respect it succeeded wildly: It vastly enriched our lexicons of slang and marketing, often to lasting effect.  Continue reading...
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If we start from the fact that language is first and foremost a spoken activity, the methods by which people have extended its powers to writing offer a fascinating lens into human history.  Continue reading...
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In the American West, wildfires have become both more frequent and more destructive. With this ominous shift has come a new vocabulary for describing fire and its outcome – and new attention to some of the oldest words in our language.  Continue reading...
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These days we need all the levity, lunar or otherwise, that we can get. This lexical lunacy is a flimsy excuse for me to write about my favorite type of word: the reduplication. From ack-ack to zip-zap, reduplicative words are silly, childish, catchy, animalistic, nonsensical, and awesome.  Continue reading...
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Multiverse is a word with multiple meanings and origins, ranging from heady philosophy to spandex-clad superheroes, but the first examples of multiverse are a lot older than you would think and not where you would expect.  Continue reading...
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I have long been a bit disposed (and definitely not predisposed) to peeve about pre- words that don't really require pre-. Lately I have added a new peeve, actually a lexicographer's lament, about words that begin with the complementary prefix post-. These two prefixes share the quality of suggesting a timeline, and the problematic nature of both of them arises when the reader or listener isn't quite clear on where to land on that timeline, or what is happening there.  Continue reading...
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