chomiji: Tenpou from Saiyuki Gaiden. with the caption Not necessarily by the book (Tenpou - Not by the book)
[personal profile] chomiji

Just look at those words! Aren't they wonderful? And as readers who consume a wide variety of literature, we recognize them, don't we? Of course we do!

A more difficult question is "Do we know exactly what they mean?" For my part, I'm not ashamed to say "not exactly, no."

These sorts of words are what author Seth Stevenson calls "bubble vocabulary." In his 2014 Slate article Shibboleth. Casuistry. Recondite., he takes a look at these words at the very edges of our vocabularies and suggests some strategies for attempting to employ them.

Wrestling with bubbles …  )
whymzycal: A ladybug on a leaf (ladybug)
[personal profile] whymzycal
In February 2015, io9 writer Lauren Davis tackled a list of “10 Things People Once Complained Would Ruin the English Language,” a fun article that explains 10 things that grammarians and other language lovers used to freak out about. Unsurprisingly, it’s easy to see parallels between past concerns and the language worries of today. Spoiler alert: English hasn’t been ruined yet, and it probably won’t be. )
ariestess: (beta-whore -- from ctorres)
[personal profile] ariestess
It's that time again! "What time is that?" you say? Why, for a Friday editorial, my dear fellow grammarians! This week, we'll take a look at "Top 10 Errors in English that Aren't Errors", which was published on Listverse on April 3, 2008.

Top 10 Errors in English that Aren't Errors )
ariestess: (adama's sweater monkeys)
[personal profile] ariestess
Welcome to another Friday editorial, fellow grammarians! This week we're going to take a look at James Harbeck's article Hey, grammar nerds! Stop freaking out about 'alot.' from July 17, 2014.

a lot vs. alot )
[identity profile]
Most of us with a fondness for (or even a passing familiarity with) grammar can relate to the jarring, nails-on-a-chalkboard sensation of running across a sentence that claims, “Me and him are best friends.” Unless the sentence is meant to be an example of ultra-relaxed colloquial dialogue, most grammar-minded people will want to run screaming from the room as soon as they’ve parsed it.

Fortunately, we’re not alone.

Such is the point made in Jen Doll’s June 2012 article from Doll graciously shares 10 of her favorite copyediting and grammar-for-life rules, some of which I’ll be discussing right here )
[identity profile]
There is nothing quite so amusing about living in the American South as overhearing your fellow Southerners’ lingo while waiting in line at the supermarket.  Besides the inevitable “dag burn” here and “ain’t” there, there’s a long list of colorful, exaggerated expressions that Southern speakers often customize when using, making these expressions more colorful and exaggerated than before.  Daniel Sosnoski covers one such expression, “butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” as well as a wide range of its variants (including the racier ones) in this very thorough article.  He touches a little on the friendly, humorous nature of this and other expressions, even the ones that are a bit (or a lot) on the insulting side.

[identity profile]
In August of last year, Slate writer Katy Waldman tackled the tricky issue of adjective order and whether it’s important in spoken and written English. Her article describes GSSSACPM, which is the generally agreed-upon order of adjectives describing a particular noun: “general opinion then specific opinion then size then shape then age then color then provenance then material” (bold emphasis mine). But of course it’s not quite as simple as all that, as Waldman goes on to explain. I’ll admit that some of her explanation seemed needlessly convoluted to me, but her examples helped to clear up what she meant, which I appreciated. So overall, I liked this article. I even learned several new things, which is something I always enjoy doing. Read on to get the full scoop. )
chomiji: Tenpou from Saiyuki Gaiden. with the caption Not necessarily by the book (Tenpou - Not by the book)
[personal profile] chomiji

Last year, Guardian opinion desk editor David Shariatmadari, who often writes about language and communication, considered some of the ways that pronunciation of the English language has changed with time. His article examined eight specific types of changes, some of which are quite recent. I already knew about some of these shifts— for example, that "adder" and "apron" used to start with "n" (nadder and napron)—but others were new to me. In general, I enjoyed the article.

Learn more about Shariatmadari's discussion … )
ariestess: (beta-whore -- from ctorres)
[personal profile] ariestess
Getting words wrong is like a rite of passage when you're first learning to speak a language, regardless of whether you're a child with your mother tongue or an adult learning a second language. You learn from your mistakes and grow more proficient in the language. In "25 Common Words That You've Got Wrong", Joseph Hindy discusses twenty-five commonly used words that he claims aren't being used correctly. Or maybe it's better to say that they're not being used to their original meanings, as he describes the popular meaning of some words as an error next to the "correct" original, and sometimes archaic, meaning for each word. Hindy explains how he believes the errors may have come about, as well as how to fix them, in a conversational, non-accusatory tone. That he also attempts to connect with his readers by admitting to misusing some of these words only makes the article more relatable.

More about those 25 commonly incorrect words... )
[identity profile]
I don't normally like the “x-number-of-things-that-you're-doing-wrong” articles that make up the side links of many a gossip site, but there's a certain charm in Ben Yagoda's 2013 “7 Grammar Rules You Should Really Pay Attention To.” In this article (which he wrote for TheWeek.Com), Yagoda uses a gentle but firm—not to mention cheeky—voice to address seven big grammar goofs that he often sees in professional writing. And we're not talking creative writing, either; we're talking employment applications, business letters, and opinion pieces meant to make an argument. In other words, places in which grammar faux pas such as lying books on a table or spinning through the air, Tommy swung the bat and hit the ball out of the park are a big No-No.

I myself view a ton of professional writing over the course of a week's time: )
[identity profile]
I grew up in the age of newspapers and have many a fond memory of seeing character in pain shouting something like "$(%))#@#!" in my favorite cartoons. Little did I know that this typographical convention actually originated in American comics strips.

In October 2013, Slate answered the question, "How Did @#$%&! Come to Represent Profanity?"

The author, who blogs at Language Log, looked back and found the symbols dated back to the very early days of the comic strip, and were probably first used in "The Katzenjammer Kids," written and drawn by Rudolph Dirks, a German immigrant to the US. It was only in the 1960s that the term "grawlix" was coined to describe the #$&%& things. (Other terms, like 'obscenicons,' didn't stick.)

In fact, Language Log has a long and interesting series of entries on the grawlix and its many appearances in popular culture, and they're pretty much all worth reading.

If you really want to fall down the rabbit hole and learn how this symbol also took root in non-American comics (I also have fond memories of seeing a grawlix or two in the pages of Asterix the Gaul), visit the entry at TV Tropes for all the faux-obscenity you might want.

(What's this? It's a new type of column, giving you a heads up on articles and commentaries you might find interesting. We hope you enjoy!)


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