Once again award-winning writer and educator Bob Greenman takes us on a journey through words selected from More Words That Make a Difference, a delightful book illustrating word usage with passages from the Atlantic Monthly. Here Bob muses on the start of another school year, with an ardor that is far from noncommittal. Continue reading...
In part two of our interview with usage expert Bryan A. Garner, we talk about a new feature in the newly published third edition of his authoritative guide, Garner's Modern American Usage: the Language-Change Index, an innovative approach to evaluating how linguistic innovations spread and become accepted over time — for better or for worse. Continue reading...
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to fill in once again for William Safire's "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine. This time I focused on how the prefix un- is getting pressed into service for all sorts of new verbs — particularly in the novel lingo of social networking, where following, friending, and favoriting can be instantly reversed by unfollowing, unfriending, and unfavoriting. Continue reading...
Today, September 18th, is Samuel Johnson's 300th birthday. The English essayist, poet, novelist, and witty conversationalist whom we know mostly through the anecdotes recorded by his friend and biographer, James Boswell, and his other friends, became famous in his day for his two-volume Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755. Dennis Baron, professor of English and linguistics at the University of Illinois, wishes Dr. Johnson a happy birthday — and a happy birthnight. Continue reading...
We've been talking to Bryan A. Garner about the new edition of Garner's Modern American Usage. Garner's book is not simply a compendium of do's and don't's: he also offers thoughtful essays advising writers on a wide variety of topics related to usage and style. Here we present Garner's essay on "Plain Language," a useful tonic to muddled and belabored prose. Continue reading...
Bryan A. Garner wears many hats: he is a lawyer, a prolific lecturer, and an equally prolific author. Since 1995, he has been editor-in-chief of Black's Law Dictionary. He is also the author of Garner's Modern American Usage, a widely respected guide to contemporary usage that has just been published in its third edition. In this, the first of our two-part interview with Garner, we learn what it means to be an "informed prescriptivist," and why you should be wary of anyone who uses prior to instead of before. Continue reading...

Wendalyn Nichols, editor of the Copyediting newsletter, offers useful tips to copy editors and anyone else who prizes clear and orderly writing. Here she examines what happens to the spelling of words when we follow our ears.

My daughter, who is six, is feeling the power of the written word. She's taken to taping notes all over the house — labels for shelves and rooms and drawers, and messages to us that begin "Dere parints." Continue reading...
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