Topic:Books

Our To Kill a Mockingbird interactive word lists are among our most popular. But there's another kind of vocabulary you'll find in To Kill a Mockingbird: Southern-inflected words that testify to the more-defined regional nature of American English as it was spoken three quarters of a century ago. And with the news that Harper Lee will release a recently rediscovered novel written previous to To Kill a Mockingbird, we can only hope to find a rich store of Southern-inflected words there as well. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Vocabulary, Words
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Although turkeys were domesticated by Native Americans, turkey itself is not a Native American word. In this excerpt from a new book The Language of Food, linguist and Stanford University professor Dan Jurafsky charts the complicated path the word turkey followed into English, then serves up a slice of etymological pecan pie. Continue reading...
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Are you baffled by the perplexing terminology favored by American politicians and pundits? A new book by Chuck McCutcheon and David Mark is here to help. Dog Whistles, Walk-Backs, and Washington Handshakes is an informative and humorous guide to deciphering contemporary political lingo. Here we present an excerpt from the book's introduction. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Language, Politics
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"A breath of fresh air." "Few and far between." "At the end of the day." These are just a few of the clichés examined by Orin Hargraves, an experienced lexicographer and one of our regular contributors, in his new book It's Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches. In this excerpt, Hargraves explains how to "free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés." Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Language, Writing
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As Black History Month comes to a close, we are proud to feature a fantastic new reference book: Bartlett's Familiar Black Quotations. As Henry Louis Gates, Jr. states in the foreword, it is an "impressively researched and documented collection of the finest thought produced by writers throughout the African diaspora." Here we present an excerpt from the preface by the book's editor, Retha Powers. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Writers, Writing
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Words can be thought of as historical artifacts; they carry with them a stamp of time and place, and sometimes it's important to take the long view and think about words outside their immediate context and use a broader perspective. Continue reading...
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Some punctuation marks hog the spotlight, like the versatile, omnipresent comma and the flirty, oft-abused semicolon. Question marks and exclamation marks — the good cop, bad cop of punctuation — are forever in your face. The period subtly but emphatically makes its presence known, while parentheses are off gossiping and tittering like teenage girls. These are the usual suspects most people think of when it comes to punctuation. Continue reading...
TOPICS: Books, Language
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