I heard an interview on the radio the other day with Dan Price, CEO of Seattle-based credit card processing firm Gravity Payments. He's been in the news because of his decision to set the minimum salary for his employees at $70,000. What interested me in the interview was his use of pencil out, a phrasal verb that was new to me. Lexicographers are to words like birders are to birds: when we spot one that's not on our life list we get very excited, even as others' eyes may glaze over. 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...
Many verbs that entail some advanced cognitive capacity are commonly used in predicates for subjects that are not human. All speakers are comfortable with sentences like "Verizon revamps mobile plans and ends 2-year contracts & subsidies." Most speakers, however, reject sentences like "Microsoft is vividly imagining a purple square." Continue reading...
This week's publication of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee's long-dormant sequel of sorts to To Kill a Mockingbird, has gotten a tune running through my head: "Go Tell Aunt Rhody." Two titles, same number of syllables, and the same syntactic structure, right down to the use of go plus another verb right next to it. But how do both those verbs fit into the place where just one verb should go? Continue reading...
To celebrate National Grammar Day today ("March Fourth/Forth"), the American Copy Editing Society's announced winning entries in a grammar haiku contest. Check them out and survey all the entries here. Continue reading...
Topics: Fun Grammar
Grammar lovers, it's your time to shine! Write a haiku for National Grammar Day, March 4th ("march forth") and tweet it to #grammarday. Or just enjoy these winning haiku from last year. Continue reading...
Topics: Fun Grammar
In January, I took part in an interesting discussion on Twitter. Washington Post copyeditor Bill Walsh posted a headline: "Hole-in-the-walls: East, west, and downtown, 19 named." He asked, "Would you take your sister-in-laws to such a place?" Continue reading...
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