Browsing Month July, 2008

Can bad language punditry be stopped? Can false attributions for classic quotes be fixed?

License revoked: Can bad language punditry be stopped?. Jan Freeman writes in the Boston Globe about her ideal world, in which journalists, commentators, and other public figures would double-check their facts before they go spreading misinformation about language, especially about word origins. Jan’s perspective is spot-on. There’s a laxness—an insufficient intellectual rigor—where it comes to more…

There’s one in every country

Here’s my latest column from the Malaysia Star. … One of the things we know to be true about all languages is that they all have words for certain concepts and things, like mother, water and moon. The things everyone has, needs, or sees. There are also words for concepts and things that are less more…

Scottish Language Dictionaries fundraiser

The Scottish Language Dictionaries program has had its funding withdrawn by the Scottish Arts Council. SLD, a charity, is responsible for the Dictionary of the Scots Language online (which offers at no charge the 22 volumes of the Scottish National Dictionary and the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue, and other works), the Concise Scots more…

SouthWest Writers

A hat-tip to the SouthWest Writers’ group, which mentioned Double-Tongued Dictionary in its July-August newsletter. Thanks!

Disfluencies: What do they mean by “I mean”?

My latest column in the Malaysia Star. Note that these columns are written for an audience that may not speak English as a first language. In them I often explain things that are obvious to a native speaker of English but may not be to an English-learner. … One of the hardest things to get more…