Visual Thesaurus subscriber "Curious Cat" has struck a nerve. Commenting on a Word Routes column last month about annoying words, "CC" wrote:
My bugbear: "No problem" in response to "Thank you" in restaurants. "You're welcome" is disappearing in this context. I assume that my business is not a problem.
These scenes from my life in Boston — when my wife Carol and I lived there many years ago and during our recent work there on "More Words That Make a Difference" — employ a number of words that appear in that book, with illustrative sentences from the Atlantic Monthly.
When I read in the New York Times
recently that everyone is going quant
in "the Age of Metrics," my first thought was, "Is that anything like Sarah Palin going rogue
?" What's going on with these new ways of going
The latest selection for 2009 Word of the Year comes from the good people at Merriam-Webster. Unlike other dictionary publishers that anoint an annual word, Merriam-Webster bases its winner and runners-up on actual user lookups to its online dictionary and thesaurus. So instead of the novelties selected by its competitors (distracted driving
from Webster's New World, unfriend
from New Oxford American), Merriam-Webster's choice is an old word that worked its way into current events: admonish
Wendalyn Nichols, editor of the Copyediting
newsletter, offers useful tips to copy editors and anyone else who prizes clear and orderly writing. Here she looks at some pitfalls in using the word proscribe
The New Oxford American Dictionary
has announced its Word of the Year
for 2009: it's unfriend
, defined as "to remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook." Readers of this space will be quite familiar with the term, as I discussed it along with similar un
-verbs on Word Routes in May
and then again in September
as a followup to my On Language column in the New York Times Magazine
, "The Age of Undoing
." It's nice to feel ahead of the curve on this one, but truth be told, unfriending
has been going on for many years.
University of Illinois linguist Dennis Baron explains how a simple grammar lesson can lead to a clash of civilizations.
Everybody knows that a noun is the name of a person, place, or thing. It's one of those undeniable facts of daily life, a fact we seldom question until we meet up with a case that doesn't quite fit the way we're used to viewing things.