A Brief Tour of British Accents: 14 Ways to Speak English in 84 Seconds

≡ Category: English Language |13 Comments

Americans, coming from the enormous and relatively recently settled place we do, tend to have a hard time with accents, struggling to grasp the extent of the variety of regional ways of speech in smaller, older countries, let alone to use them ourselves.


Opening Sentences From Great Novels, Diagrammed: Lolita, 1984 & More

≡ Category: English Language, Literature |Leave a Comment

I admit it: I still don’t understand sentence diagramming. Though as a middle schooler I dutifully, if grudgingly, submitted to that classic English classroom exercise, the practice didn’t stick, nor did whatever habit of composition it meant to convey.


New “Hemingway” App Promises to Make Your Writing “Strong and Clear”

≡ Category: English Language, Literature, Writing |7 Comments

I confess, I prefer Faulkner to Hemingway and see nothing wrong with long, complex sentences when they are well-constructed. But in most non-Faulkner writing, they are not. Stream of consciousness is a deliberate effect of carefully edited prose, not the unrevised slop of a first draft.


David Foster Wallace Creates Lists of His Favorite Words: “Maugre,” “Tarantism,” “Ruck,” “Primapara” & More

≡ Category: English Language, Literature, Writing |6 Comments

Everyone I know has a list of least-favorite words. For various reasons, “moist” always seems to make the top three. But perhaps it takes a writer—someone who savors the sounds, textures, and histories of peculiar words—to compile a list of their most-favorites.


The International Children’s Digital Library Offers Free eBooks for Kids in Over 40 Languages

≡ Category: Books, Education, English Language, K-12, Language Lessons |2 Comments

For all of the free literature and essays available online, a surprisingly small amount is geared toward children. Even less is aimed at children who speak foreign languages.
The International Children’s Digital Library offers children ages 3-13 free access to the best available children’s literature in more than 40 languages.


Read 100 Entries From America’s Most Unique Dictionary, Now Available Online For The First Time

≡ Category: English Language, History |3 Comments

Earlier this year, we wrote about the regional differences in how Americans refer to soft drinks.


“Soda/Pop/Coke,” A Creative Visual Remix of Harvard’s Famous 2003 Survey of American Dialects

≡ Category: Education, English Language, Film, Harvard |Leave a Comment

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.


George Orwell’s Five Greatest Essays (as Selected by Pulitzer-Prize Winning Columnist Michael Hiltzik)

≡ Category: English Language, Literature, Politics |4 Comments

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


The Curious History of Punctuation: Author Reveals the Beginnings of the #, ¶, ☞, and More

≡ Category: English Language, History |2 Comments

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 Shakespeare Sounded Like to Shakespeare: Reconstructing the Bard’s Original Pronunciation

≡ Category: English Language, History, Literature, Theatre |15 Comments

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


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