Since we learned their names one week ago, some have called Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev terrorists, a labeling supported by the news that they hatched a plan to bomb New York — not just "party" there. Others have called them bros, and maybe — just maybe — that's a way of regaining some semblance of power.
A long, long, long time ago (like, last year) I wrote an obituary for the word artisanal. It seemed high time to declare it dead and get on with our lives. And yet, it has become clear in the months that have followed that artisanal is not dead. Artisanal may, instead, be undead.
A lengthy piece at Slate today by Matthew J.X. Malady delves into the question of why we humans insist on taking such pleasure in hating words so vociferously. But maybe we just hate words because it's fun.
Updates to dictionaries take place regularly enough that it seems like someone is always grumbling over this word or that phrase being included in the most esteemed place we think of words existing. But sometimes the lexicographers themselves are surprised by what they find.
Grammar. In honor of its beauty and, more importantly, its usefulness to all of us, there is a National Grammar Day, a day that grammarians have been celebrating since 2008. How should a word-minded person celebrate?
Why do people insist on spelling certain words with more letters than is necessary on an inherently limited social media platform like Twitter? I turned to Tyler Schnoebelen, a recent PhD from Stanford who studies emotion in language, in hopes of gaining some clarityyy.
The misused word is everywhere, proliferating like fruit flies 'round a bowl of rotting bananas. We must stop it before it goes too far.
What happens when people grow up and cease to use the crayons of their childhood creative pursuits and endeavors? Not to worry, there are crayons for adulthood, too!
In Sunday's New York Times there's an article that combines things relationship with things semantic. What in the world are you supposed to call the man or woman with whom you've been living with for the past 20 years — your de facto spouse — when you're not actually, officially married, and never want to be?
In a final vote of 118 to 99 in a runoff against marriage equality (winner of "Most Likely to Succeed"), at the annual Word of the Year event held by the American Dialect Society, hashtag took it home.
Tonight in the grand ballrooms of a Boston Marriott, linguists and language experts and word aficionados will gather to vote on the American Dialect Society's official Word of the Year. Will it be YOLO? Mansplaining? Fiscal cliff? Only time will tell, but for now ... a preview.
"Fiscal cliff," "spoiler alert," and "trending" beware: Michigan's Lake Superior State University has issued their list for the 38th year in a row.
There is no better way for a semantic-minded person to remember the year than with those words we'd just as soon never write or see or hear spoken again. From "artisanal" to "curate," "gaffe" to "legitimate rape," and "meggings" to "ugh," here's our list.
Hark! Merriam-Webster has revealed another much anticipated word-of-the-year designation: the dictionary website's 10 most looked-up words of 2012.
What happens when one NYU student replies to 39,978 others? Things go nuts, on TV, the Internet, and the world, and so on. Now it's transitioned into a handy anecdote on the state of how to use email.
In a shocking disclosure revealed by Alison Flood in the Guardian this week, the most venerable of dictionaries, the Oxford English, may be embroiled in quite the scandal. Or is it?
So ... if Tracy Morgan goes on a rant again and tells people that he'd stab and kill his son for being gay, the AP will just call it "anti-gay." And forget about "ethnic cleansing" and "Islamophobia" — those won't exist in the new stylebook either.
You could call it "an embarrassment," or "amusing," a "soap opera," a "four-star farce," or "the most dramatic rose ceremony yet." You could call it, as Paula Broadwell did (for her book), All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. You could call it a conspiracy, or just like high school. But you're going to have to call it something.
If you were to choose the word of the year, the year being 2012, what would you pick? Trust this will be a matter of much enjoyably conflict-filled discussion as we gear up for end of the year word lists.
We know you're waiting to vote, among other bits and pieces of waiting. But as you're waiting in reportedly long lines, what exactly are you muttering in your mind, or tweeting to your followers, or posting on your Facebook page, or texting to your friends? On or in?
Let's hope that we can't call it this for very long, but for the moment, the neighborhood-name coinage that appears to be Sandy's legacy to New Yorkers is "SoPo."
A Frankenword is a special kind of portmanteau we don't talk about all that much, but given Sandy (dubbed early on a "Frankenstorm"), it is again a topic of conversation, at least among certain semantically driven people.
In purely semantical terms, Sandy is whipping up some havoc, though of a less dangerous kind than what she's doing atmospherically. Here's a lexical exploration of some of the key storm-related words flying around.
Today is the day a certain set of language and literature fans celebrate Mr. Geoffrey Chaucer, who died 612 years ago today. Not only was Old Chaucey a pretty compelling writer, but also, he was far better at coining words and phrases than the rest of us amateur portmanteau-chasers.
Just days ago, Nate Silver wrote in the New York Times that "if only women voted, President Obama would be on track for a landslide re-election, equaling or exceeding his margin of victory over Senator John McCain in 2008." Today, a new Associated Press-GfK poll, cited by CBS News, indicates that that gender gap is "all but gone."
Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer hosted the final presidential debate sit-down with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, focused ostensibly on the matter of foreign policy, Monday evening. Here is your semantical commentary. (For GIFs and things, go here).
Prohibition be damned, words were just better in the 1920s. If you don't request extra foot juice tonight at that dive bar where you order the subpar pinot grigio, you are doing something wrong.
Just when you thought it was safe to go to work without the dreaded scourge of artisanal hunkering down and making itself at home in your workspace, oops, there it is. Artisanal cubicles, welcome to the year 2012.
Last week, Australia's Julia Gillard, the first woman to serve as the country's prime minister, gave an impassioned speech against sexism, accusing conservative Opposition Leader Tony Abbott of being a misogynist. Her words have inspired changes in how that word is defined in Australia's Macquarie Dictionary.
Tuesday evening we went down the old presidential debate road yet again, meeting our candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama for a second time with all the convivial discourse-ready trappings of America.
Happy Dictionary Day, word-nerds! This is the official holiday in which we celebrate the birth of Noah Webster, who would be 254 years old if he were still living and breathing on this planet.
Why are so many American writers using expressions like bumbling toff, fortnight, and lovely piece of kit—why, possibly worse, are words like crikey, loo, cheers, brilliant, flat, twee, ginger, whinge, sot, rubbish, and so on "Anglocreeping" their way through our country's vernacular?
The New York Times' After Deadline blog has a noteworthy semantical discussion today in light of the presidential debates and all the fact-checking and talking about fact-checking that's guaranteed to keep happening until the election on November 6, and maybe afterward, too. Let us count the ways in which we incorrectly use the word fact.
Like many of us, I watched last night's first debate of the 2012 presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, but I was paying particular attention not to content but to style, semantic choices, and the use of those tricky crutch words.
If you're not as inherently excited about the prospect of tonight's debate as we are, we've put it into the context of a semantical drinking game, pairing drinks featuring low-to-high alcoholic content with the high-to-low likelihood of crutch words. Play along at home; debates start at 9 p.m. EDT.
Apropos of crutch words, apropos of despicable words, apropos of very word-world as we know it, there's another word rant that I must bring to your immediate attention. Really. Really! Really? Oh yes.
Misuses of words are fast and frequent and come in any number of varieties. They are not all the same. Here are a few of the most likely ways we confuse our words, with examples to learn from.
Punctuation can be both the great love and the occasional bane of a writer's existence, and it's not strange that a love affair may crop up with regard to one of those marks—or, contrarily, perhaps a great hatred may grow.
Just when you thought maybe we'd stopped talking hipster to death as a term (haven't we killed it, already?) it rears its head again: This time in Forbes' gleeful list of "America's Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods."
Chickification: This is a term our dear friend Rush Limbaugh adores, considering it some sort of powerful way to demean women. But for having made it up, it's still rather unclear what it means. And why should we take his word for what chickification is?
If there is a magic to creating a successful TV show, NPR claims to have sort of maybe found it. Linda Holmes writes, as inspired by the premieres of two of the new fall shows tonight—Mob Doctor and Revolution—that just 25 words hold the key to all the TV we will see in the next 10 years.
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