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Putting In A Good Word: rating words’ chances for success

I’ve got an article at Forbes this week, in which I identify some new words and gauge their chance of success. It’s part of a larger package of articles about neologisms, with articles from Jon McWhorter, Ben Zimmer, Mark Peters, and others. … New words are like grains of sand on a beach. They appear more…

Pickle is automatically a funny word

My latest column in the Malaysia Star, written for a foreign audience seeking to improve its English. … In Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, a play about show business, one of the main characters tells another that certain words are funny all by themselves. “Words with ‘K’ in it are funny. You didn’t know that, more…

Like a Duck on a June Bug

In the latest episode of the radio program we talked about “Like a duck on a june bug,” bird names, overuse of “like,” “Good night, nurse!”, Luddites, chicken bog, keeping your eyes peeled, getting someone’s goat, an old children’s rhyme, and more.

From LOL to lulz to lolxxx

In the Malaysia Star you’ll find my latest in a series of columns in which I try to bring to light interesting slang for a non-Western audience whose English skills range from nascent to fluent. … From my desk—at which sits someone who has been on the Internet since 1992 and was a patron of more…

Latest radio episode: Dust Bunnies and Ghost Turds

Feeling fankled? It’s a Scots English word that means “messed up” or “confused.” In this week’s episode of the radio show, my co-host Martha and I discuss a whole litter of synonyms for dust bunny, a slew of different terms for the piece of playground equipment you slide on, and the proper way to refer more…

A few recessionary, depressionary, econolyptic terms

Joining in the fun, here’s my list of financial terms related to the economic crisis to go along with those made by Ben Zimmer and Mark Peters. You can also find a lot more in my word-of-the-year nominations for 2007 and 2008. … What We’re Talking About Is Money bad bank: A government-run bank that more…

The lore and rhymes of children

This is my latest column in the Malaysia Star. Thanks to cousin Kirk Gadberry, whose query about “chinny chin chin” gave me the idea of talking about the lore of children. We’ll be talking more about counting rhymes and such on an upcoming episode of the radio show, now carried in many more markets across more…

A Sense of Snow

My latest column has been published in the Malaysia Star. … Folks from those parts of the world—or even the parts of the United States—that have only known warm climates have a hard time getting a handle on snow, even after a few winters where snow is common. So it occurs to me—as I stare more…

UPDATED: Photos!

New photos are going to be posted here henceforth: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grantbarrett/

Zombies!

My latest column in the Malaysia Star is about the language of zombies. Aarrgurrggghhhhhh! … The word “zombie” means a person who has come back from the dead and is now walking the Earth. Arising out of the religions brought by African slaves to the New World, the word traces it roots back to the more…