Browsing Month May, 2007

What a difference a word makes: midwifery, tocology, and legislation enhancement by obfuscation

In some Missourians the stubbornness of the Missouri mule shows up either in a posteriorly-painful bull-headedness or in a bee-like one-mindedness. The former type refuses to budge from a position. The latter works diligently to reach a goal. Both persevere despite setbacks. This time, the bees got one over on the bulls. … In the more…

The fourth tone in Mandarin is so difficult that if you say it too many times you will be hungry

For Changing Queens, Lessons in Talk of the Streets. “Now, at 85, he has embarked on his last great linguistic effort. His progress has been maddeningly slow; at one point, Mr. Sygal approached ‘dozens’ of Chinese people, he said, in a fruitless attempt to translate the word ‘ka-ching,’ a term he had seen in a more…

“Benchmark”: A Political Catchphrase, Coming In Off the Bench

In A Political Catchphrase, Coming In Off the Bench, Sridhar Pappu of the Washington Post quotes me and Peter Sokolowski of Merriam-Webster about the word “benchmark.” I tried to dissuade Mr. Pappu from writing that the word “benchmark” is newly popular in politics—even going so far as to suggest that he was suffering from the more…

Erin McKean PopTech Video: Dictionaries are the Vodka of Literature

My colleague and friend Erin McKean, editor in chief of American Dictionaries for Oxford University Press, gave a great speech at the PopTech conference. It’s funny and charming. See the video.

You Don’t Say: Language And Usage, a blog from the Baltimore Sun

Mike Pope wrote to recommend You Don’t Say: Language And Usage, a blog by John McIntyre, the Baltimore Sun‘s assistant managing editor for the copy desk.

An example of why the false rule against split infinitives should be ignored

A great example from the International Herald Tribune of why you should absolutely split some infinitives: For seven years, Europe’s powerful mobile phone operators had been able to block quietly attempts to bring down roaming prices by getting proposals vetoed in the 27-member council, which meets behind closed doors. To block quietly attempts? Are you more…

Dave Wilton’s Cincinnati Chili

Dave Wilton of WordOrigins.org gives his recipe for Cincinnati Chili in the Jackson, Mississippi, Clarion-Ledger.

Baby Boomer Dislikes Youth Slang: Film at 11

‘Sweet’ slang most definitely not cool to me. Is cool sweet? Is sweet cool? […] The two slang words more or less mean the same thing — as in “that’s a cool song” or “that was a sweet movie.” I have to tell you though, I’d never describe a movie the latter way. Even thinking more…

Two months!

We’ve been negligent posting pictures of the boy, so here’s a gallery of him at two months, and, as a bonus, video! Look at those smiles.

WorldChanging: The Survival of Languages in a Digital Age

Ethan Zuckerman writes that the “Kamusi Project, a remarkable online Swahili-English dictionary that’s been built by paid staff and volunteer contributions over the past dozen years,” is stalled because of lack of funding. He elaborates on the digital-era need to fully study, document, and write dictionaries for African languages.