Sarah Palin's political opponents made hay out of her gaffe last Wednesday, when she said on Glenn Beck's radio show that "We gotta stand with our North Korean allies," when she meant "South Korean allies." Palin fought back with a Thanksgiving Facebook message that pointed to numerous slips of the tongue by President Obama. I don't find her "North Korean" error particularly remarkable (she was swiftly corrected by Beck, and she didn't confuse North and South Korea elsewhere in her remarks). I was more interested in what she said before that: "We're not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction
what it is that North Korea is going to do." Was her use of sanction
What's "cherpumple"? Let naming expert and word-watcher Nancy Friedman define it for you...
: A dessert comprising cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies, each baked inside a layer of cake. The word is a portmanteau of cherry
, and apple
A new book by Allan Metcalf, Professor of English at MacMurray College and Executive Secretary of the American Dialect Society, is all about the history of a single word: OK
. You can read a Q&A with Metcalf about OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word
on the Oxford University Press blog here
The outrage over new security procedures enforced by the Transportation Security Administration has thrust the word pat-down
into the news. Airline passenger screenings in the U.S. now involve full-body scans, or if the passenger refuses the scan, a full-body pat-down. While the TSA faces backlash against these so-called "enhanced pat-downs" (an unfortunate term reminiscent of "enhanced interrogation techniques" at Guantanamo), plain-old pat-downs
have been part of the lexicon of law enforcement for decades.
There's a new campaign to boost awareness of U.S. public libraries that goes by the curious name, "Geek the Library." I'm all for the campaign's stated mission of improving public perceptions of libraries by championing their importance to local communities. But what really fascinates me is the way they're using geek
as a transitive verb to mean "be geekily enthusiastic about." I guess you could say I geek innovative uses of the word geek
We welcome back Merrill Perlman, who writes the "Language Corner" column for Columbia Journalism Review. Here she considers how "scapegoat" gets turned into "escape goat" — an error that actually has an etymological basis.
We welcome back Fitch O'Connell, a longtime teacher of English as a foreign language, working for the British Council in Portugal and other European countries. Here Fitch considers one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the English-language classroom: the dastardly phrasal verb.