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.
It's time once again for "Word of the Year" season! The New Oxford American Dictionary gets things started by naming its Word of 2010: Sarah Palin's notorious Twitterism, refudiate
. Read about the selection and the runners-up (including vuvuzela
and nom nom
) on the Oxford University Press blog here
. And read more about refudiate
in Ben Zimmer's Word Routes column here
Twenty years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau authored the proposal that launched "the World Wide Web," and the English language has never been the same. In my On Language column for The New York Times Magazine this Sunday, I take a look back at the inception of "the Web" and its many linguistic offspring over the years. As a master metaphor for our online age, the gossamer Web has proved remarkably resilient.
Four years ago, when then-President George W. Bush surveyed the losses suffered by congressional Republicans in the midterm elections, he memorably called it a "thumping." On Wednesday, President Obama used a similarly colorful term to describe his party's electoral woes. "I’m not recommending for every future President that they take a shellacking like I did last night," he said at his press conference. That comment led many to wonder, how did shellacking
come to describe a thorough defeat?
In learning about the Constitution in my American history class in junior high, we learned about the Framers, checks and balances, three branches of government, and all the rest. We learned about the bicameral legislature, i.e., the two chambers of the United States Congress: the House of Representatives and the Senate. But after learning all that, I wondered: Where did congressmen fit into the picture with all these representatives and senators? I'd seen campaign signs referring to "Congressman So-and-so"; I'd heard encouragements to "write your congressman!"; who were these congressmen?
A sighting of a "corrections institution" has us thinking about the gamut of terms used for the punishment end of the criminal justice system.
"Words of the World" is a series of short videos presented by experts from the University of Nottingham's School of Modern Languages and Cultures. From vodka
, from aficionado
, the Nottingham scholars explore the global history of words in fascinating detail. Start watching here