Category: Spelling

Figuring Out the Trick Behind [sic]

Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, at 11:00 pm

We’ve all seen it at some point when reading: a three-letter package in brackets. It follows text to draw attention to or make a point about it. We’re talking about [sic]. What is it—and when do we accurately use it? Fowler’s Modern English Usage explains that sic is Latin for “so, thus.” It is a complete word and …

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The Language of Sports

Posted on Tuesday, March 27, 2018, at 11:00 pm

“I truly don’t know the language,” said the late Sparky Anderson, a Hall of Fame baseball manager, in 1993. At least he had the gumption to admit it. It’s not that they’re lazy—athletes work their tails off. And it’s not that they’re stupid—you try memorizing a football playbook. It’s just that their brand of eloquence is …

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You Lost Me After “Feb”

Posted on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, at 8:30 am

In honor of both our present month as well as the birthday of our late writer Tom Stern, today we repeat his classic pronunciation article first published on February 3, 2016.   Feb-yoo-ary. Febber-ary. Feb-wary. Can’t anyone around here say “feb-roo-ary”? It’s time to revisit dissimilation, the labored linguistic theory that purports to explain why so …

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Graphic Ignorance

Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, at 10:17 am

TV networks’ graphics departments have long been out of control with their intrusive cluelessness. After 9/11, many cable channels initiated a constant “crawl” of news at the bottom of the screen. The spellbinding stream of words, slow and endless, is perversely distracting. But if you run a news channel, shouldn’t credibility be a front-burner concern? …

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Putting Out the Patrol for Made-Up Words

Posted on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, at 2:15 pm

Estimates of English’s total word count vary, but linguists agree the number ranks near the top of the world’s vocabularies. A May GrammarBook newsletter article cited English as having as many as 300,000 distinctly usable words. With so many residents in a vernacular, impostors posing as real words are bound to slip in. They start as mistakes …

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