Posts Tagged: words

FUNNY WOMEN: Other Contenders for 2017’s Word of the Year

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Fückit: When you’ve had enough, more than enough, but somehow enough is never enough, and I put wine in my cereal now.

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Language as Passive-Aggression

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At the Atlantic, Megan Garber proposes a new word to describe words and phrases that have come to mean their opposite, like “honestly,” “no offense,” and “literally”: So here’s one proposal: Let’s call these words “smarmonyms.” Because they’re the words that exist because we English-speakers can be, at times, awkward and passive-aggressive and jerky and, yes, a little […]

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Curating Life

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You might say that our blog offers curated literary articles. That might sound pretentious, but not nearly as pretentious as a curated salad, a curated college application, or a curated wine list. The Guardian takes a look at the use, overuse, and history of curation: The idea of the contemporary curator originates with the conceptual art movement […]

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Sharing Our Words

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Writers often overuse a few unique words, creating a linguistic fingerprint. Vocabulary words are also exchanged between social groups. Some people contribute new words, while others adopt them. The process is not entirely random, though: Diana Boxer, a professor at the University of Florida who specializes in sociolinguistics, says that when we find ourselves in […]

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Creating New Words

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The act of creating new words helps make language more precise. George Orwell once proposed a ministry responsible for inventing new words for precisely that reason, explains  The Airship Daily. However, the shortcomings of language and the new words created for precision is the reliance on interpretation: However, coining new words won’t change the fact […]

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Authors’ Pet Words and What They Reveal

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How much do an author’s most-used words reveal about his or her thought process? Quite a lot, according to this New Yorker essay on pet words both common and uncommon, both consciously selected and inadvertent. One of many deeply interesting examples: Even if we’d never read Milton, we might surmise something of his vast, magisterial temperament […]

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Lexicon Valley Now In Written Form

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Slate‘s language podcast, Lexicon Valley, now has a blog component, by popular demand. (Surprise, surprise—word nerds want to read more.) So far, it’s mostly cross-posts from the always-wonderful Language Log on the topics of slang, translation, and the word meh. We look forward to reading more posts—and hearing more podcast episodes—about the delightful strangeness of language.

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These Words All Have Neoflects Coming Off Them

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Did you know that, like aglets for the end of a shoelace or tittle for the dot atop an i, there’s a whole delightful host of terms for the visual cues used in comic strips? Invented chiefly by cartoonist Mort Walker in a half-joking illustrated mini-dictionary called The Lexicon of Comicana, they include plewds (the big drops of sweat that […]

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Organic Keeping-on

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Mental Floss’s brief history of the term “OK” is more than just all right. Using Allan Metcalf’s OK: The Improbably Story of America’s Greatest Word as a source, it covers not only the term’s birth, but also how it went the 19th-century version of viral and attained an almost miraculous staying power. Our rating: Overall, keen.

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From “Beef-Witted” to “Zafty”

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The lists of obscure vocabulary passed around among word nerds can get kind of repetitive (we all know what “schadenfreude” means by now, thanks very much), but this one from Death and Taxes is great the whole way through. It catalogs “18 obsolete words which should never have gone out of style,” and each one is a […]

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The Evolution of Language

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How did humans learn to talk, anyway? Vervet monkeys use different words (or, at least, “different alarm calls to refer to different types of predators, such as snakes and leopards”) but don’t arrange them into diverse kinds of sentences. Songbirds, meanwhile, create elaborate sentences with a variety of notes, but the notes don’t act as […]

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Does My Word Sound Big?

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Have we been overlooking sound symbolism? Recent studies have shown that humans connect certain sounds with sensory perceptions and thus, the sound of a word could hint at its meaning. This article addresses how the idea fits into theories on language and its origins. “These cross-sensory connections may even open a window onto the first […]

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