Last week, a study was published tracking word frequencies on the blogosphere, and researchers found that certain words can have earthquake-like effects. The researchers, from the Medical University of Vienna, examined 168 political blogs in the United States and monitored spikes in word frequency. They discovered that some events can trigger influential "reverberations."
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. Fitch considers how a fun exercise in concocting collective nouns could be used as a tool for vocabulary expansion.
In a publicity stunt, Toyota took out a New York Times
ad, put out a YouTube video, and distributed a survey at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, asking the public what the plural of Prius
should be, in a campaign announcing that there is going to be a family of Prius models. I hesitate to reward them with more publicity for such a willfully dumb question. But I can’t help myself. This is too good an excuse to talk about the wider topic of phony Latinate plurals. Well-played, Toyota.
The Pittsburgh Steelers meet the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl this weekend, and the Washington Post has a guide to Pittsburgh and Wisconsin lingo. Steelers fans might say, "Redd up the house, company's comin!" A Packers touchdown might be greeted with "Uff-da!" Read all about it here
In advance of the Super Bowl, Visual Thesaurus editor Ben Zimmer tackles the aggressive lingo of football in his "On Language" column for The New York Times Magazine
. Read the column here
, and listen to sportswriters discuss the column on Slate's "Hang Up and Listen" podcast here
(starting at 33:30).
Last month in The Chronicle of Higher Education, University of Delaware English professor Ben Yagoda wrote about the clunky prose style he noticed in his students' compositions, including "a boom in Britishisms." Now Yagoda has created a wiki page to keep track of Britishisms creeping into American usage. Here is what Yagoda has collected so far.
In this special edition of Evasive Maneuvers, our euphemism-meister Mark Peters reviews a new book on verbal evasions, Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms
by Ralph Keyes. According to Keyes, euphemisms serve as "an excellent way to determine what we find embarrassing."