Tomorrow, friends and relatives from far-flung corners of the country will gather as they do this time each year—stuff themselves silly, trim Christmas trees, watch football, online shop, etc.[...]
Every time I’ve taught George Orwell’s famous 1946 essay on misleading, smudgy writing, “Politics and the English Language,” to a group of undergraduates, we’ve delighted in pointing out the number of times Orwell violates his own rules—indulges some form of vague, “pretentious” diction, slips into unnecessary passive[...]
All things we humans use, from our advanced mobile phones to our very arms and legs, reached their current states through a process of evolution. The same, naturally, goes for our punctuation marks.[...]
What did Shakespeare’s English sound like to Shakespeare? To his audience? And how can we know such a thing as the phonetic character of the language spoken 400 years ago? These questions and more are addressed in the video above, which profiles a very popular experiment at London’s Globe Theatre, the 1994 reconstruction of Shakespeare’s the[...]
Many interests have spurred creative alphabet collections: New York City. Geekdom. Food snobbery. Childhood calamity. And now?
Actually, LSD ABC, defies neat categorization.
Stick to what you know goes the conventional wisdom. Author Richard Wright won acclaim documenting the African-American experience in the 30′s and 40′s. Literary standing in the bag, he could have explored any number of avenues through his writing, or chosen to delve deeper into the rich territory from which his career had been mined.[...]
“I didn’t think much of Infinite Jest in the beginning,” writes Jacqueline Munoz, librarian at the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center.[...]
It may be a misconception, it may be a cliché: I’m not a German speaker—but reading translator’s introductions to, say, Kant, Hegel or Goethe has convinced me that their language does a much better job than English at capturing those oddly specific twilight moods and compound feelings that so often escape definition.[...]
Click each map for larger image
Americans use words differently in different regions of the country—a “moot” or “mute” point? There’s a grammatical argument to be made here for sure, but for a simple yes or no answer check out a series of new maps released by statistician Joshua Katz.
What advantage, I recently asked a trilingual writer, could you possibly find in using such an improvised, confusing, irregular patchwork of a language as English? She replied that this very improvisation, irregularity, and even confusion comes from the vast freedom of expression (and of invention of new expressions) that English offers over other[...]