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Dictionary daftness, Dan Brown style

Perhaps you saw the outrageous headline from The Daily Telegraph last week: "Secret vault of words rejected by the Oxford English Dictionary uncovered"! Michael Quinion called it "quite the daftest dictionary-related story I've ever read," and I tend to agree. In my latest Word Routes column on the Visual Thesaurus, I take a look at […]

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Dan Brown's new one: where's Pullum?

Commenters on this blog and others, and many of my correspondents, have been asking: "Where is Pullum?" I am on a train in England, using unspeakably slow wireless Internet. And I have a copy of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol cradled in my palms.

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The Dan Brown contest

I'm not usually on the Dan Brown desk here at Language Log Plaza — that's Geoff Pullum's domain — but this one came to me (from Bruce Webster). By Tom Chivers on the Telegraph's site: The Lost Symbol, the latest novel by The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, has gone on sale. We pick […]

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Come back, Dan Brown, all is forgiven

WHY did we walk all the way from the New Town to the Edinburgh Odeon without reading the goddamned movie reviews first? Are we so stupid? I guess we must be. It has been years since either Barbara or I was at a film so bad that we felt we had to just get up […]

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Brown: Greek is Latin, -logy beats -nomy

"Governor 'Moonbeam' Takes on His Critics at Greenbuild", The Dirt (American Society of Landscape Architects, 11/26/2012: California Governor Jerry Brown, aka Governor “Moonbeam,” took on his many critics at the 2012 Greenbuild in San Francisco, saying the people who originally called him that are “no longer around, while I still am.” To huge laughs, he […]

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US Department of American Redundancy Department

The Doonesbury site's "Say What?" feature today reports Mitt Romney as having recently said: I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love. I often find I disagree with the views of Republican candidates, and my initial inclination […]

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Codes, ciphers, and cryptography à la chinoise et à la japonaise

This is a passage from chapter 3 of Dan Brown's Digital Fortress (1998) Eventually one of them [VHM:  NSA cryptographers] explained what Becker had already surmised. The scrambled text was a code‑a “cipher text”‑groups of numbers and letters representing encrypted words. The cryptographers’ job was to study the code and extract from it the original […]

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Modal logic of traffic signs

Sent in by Michael Robinson: I saw this traffic sign in Toledo, Ohio. Luckily I wasn't driving a truck, or I would have had no idea what I was allowed to do. Since we were in a car, we figured U-turns must be OK. Because we were heading to a place that sold coffee, and […]

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Setting injustice back

Mitch Albom, "Austin pastor’s false cake charge sets real injustice back", Dallas Morning News 5/23/2016: Brown set back every future case of intolerance, allowing critics to ask if it’s real or fabricated. As Albom's column explains, Jordan Brown is the openly gay pastor who accused the bakery at Whole Foods of adding an anti-gay slur […]

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Critical take-downs

Kevin Roose, "Microsoft Just Laid Off Thousands of Employees With a Hilariously Bad Memo", New York Magazine 7/16/2014: Typically, when you're a top executive at a major corporation that is laying off more than 10 percent of your workforce, you say a few things to the newly jobless. Like "sorry." Or "thank you for your […]

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Lumpatious lexicography

In the latest episode of "Sam & Cat," a teen comedy on Nickelodeon, the plot takes a lexicographical turn. As Nickelodeon describes it, Sam and Cat make a bet with the annoying older brother of a babysitting client that "lumpatious" is a real word. When they discover it is not, they must figure out how […]

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Juvenile Peevery

…has been featured in the last three Big Nate strips, starting with this one:

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The future and the past

Tom Chivers, the Telegraph's assistant comment editor, has posted some comments of his own on the linguistic side of a recent British parliamentary controversy ("Nadine Dorries, linguistic pioneer", The Telegraph 9/12/2011). David Cameron said something about Ms. Dorries that some perceived as offensive; he later apologized to her, and she responded: I don’t for one […]

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