Some years ago, there was a series of stories in a magazine about dates that did not go well. In one of the stories, a woman met her date at a Mexican restaurant. When they ordered dinner, her companion asked for tortillas, but he pronounced the word "dor-dee-yas." Although he did not know it, the hapless gentleman's pronunciation proved to be a shibboleth that meant there would be no second date, and got me thinking about other encounters we may have with shibboleths in our personal experience. Continue reading...
If you're a teacher using Vocabulary.com, a great way to bump up your students' word learning is to take Vocabulary.com schoolwide. Class-to-class competition will create a word learning culture within your school, and your students' Words Mastered numbers will climb. Here's how one teacher made that happen within her school. Continue reading...
Topics: Vocabulary Bowl
For the Slate podcast Lexicon Valley, I explored the peculiar origins of the word boondoggle, which took a strange trip from the world of Boy Scouts to the world of politics 80 years ago. Continue reading...
"Verbing weirds language." Ad copywriters have made the weirding of language – and especially the verbing of nouns – a signal feature of the current brandscape. They're only the most visible of the language-weirders who are making the culture more expressive... or more vexing, depending on your point of view. Continue reading...
At the second Republican presidential debate, held last night at the Reagan Presidential Library and aired on CNN, the candidates jockeyed for the attention of primary voters. There are many ways of judging their performances, but what better way than to analyze their choice of words? Continue reading...
On Minnesota Public Radio, our executive editor Ben Zimmer explored the problematic history of the word refugee, now frequently heard in media accounts of the European migration crisis. Continue reading...
Topics: Usage Words Politics
If you are a principal or other school leader, here are some ways you can make vocabulary learning a priority at your school by getting students excited about playing the Vocabulary Bowl. Continue reading...
Topics: Vocabulary Bowl
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