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What Palin's gonna do

Philip Gourevitch's "The State of Sarah Palin" (New Yorker, 22 September, p. 66-7) quotes from an interview with the vice-presidential candidate: "We're not just gonna concede to three big oil companies of this monopoly–Exxon, B.P., ConocoPhillips–and beg them to do this [build a natural gas pipeline] for Alaska," Palin told me last month in Juneau. […]

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Sarah Palin

What with all the controversy over Sarah Palin's views and (lack of) qualifications to be President, as far as I can tell thus far no one has claimed that she is prone to linguistic errors. That's really too bad. If only she would make the right sort of error, rather than the mundane bushisms we […]

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Wanna, gotta

From Doonesbury 5/2/2021: Linguists have paid a lot of attention over the years to  wanna-contraction, starting with George Lakoff's 1970 paper "Global rules" — see these lecture notes for a discussion, if you're interested. But gotta-contraction has gotten a lot less attention — 7 Google scholar hits vs. 658. The reason for this difference is simple: […]

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Headline abuse of the month

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Annals of LID

Nice fucking try, Twitter: — Jim Henley (@UOJim) July 18, 2015

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Vocal fry probably doesn't harm your career prospects

. . . but not being yourself just might. There's been a lot of media interest recently in a new study of "vocal fry", sparked in part by an unusually detailed magazine article — Olga Khazan, "Vocal Fry May Hurt Women's Job Prospects", The Atlantic 5/29/2014. Other coverage: Gail Sullivan, "Study: Women with creaky voices — also […]

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Rocking the snark

Today's Doonesbury: This is actually a re-run of a strip from 1/8/2013, and not everyone got it then: Apologies for the non-sequitur, but in today’s Doonesbury strip a character uses the phrase “to rock the snark”. Does anyone know what this phrase means? Nobody answered the question on that 2013 comment thread, but we're here […]

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"Hard vowel sounds"

"Red-blue divisions start with newborns’ names; parents show partisan tendencies", Washington Times 6/5/2013: Names with the soft consonant “l” or that end in a long “a” — for example, President Obama’s daughter Malia — are more likely to be found in Democratic neighborhoods, while names with hard vowel sounds such as K, G or B […]

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The readers are worse than the writers

… at least judging by the readers' comments on Stephanie Banchero, "Students Fall Flat in Vocabulary Test", Wall Street Journal 12/6/2012.  Banchero's article seriously misunderstands and misrepresents an already-misleading account of American schoolchildrens' knowledge of vocabulary — see "Journalist Falls Flat in Comprehension Test", 12/8/2012, for details. But the 127 readers' comments suggest that the paper […]

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Annals of euphemism

Sometimes the New York Times stylebook makes life hard for its writers, and interesting for those of its readers who like cloze tests. According to Michael Barbaro, "A Mood of Gloom Afflicts the Romney Campaign", NYT 9/18/2012: A palpably gloomy and openly frustrated mood has begun to creep into Mr. Romney’s campaign for president. Well […]

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Chris Christie's pronouns

According to Andrew Rosenthal ("Chris Christie: But Enough About Mitt, Let’s Talk About Me", NYT 8/29/2012): Gov. Chris Christie is getting rave reviews today for his performance at the National Republican Convention, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he did a huge amount of good for the three most important people in his […]

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The third life of American Exceptionalism

"Restoring American Exceptionalism" has recently become an important Republican slogan. It's a featured theme for Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, and Glenn Beck.  Mitt Romney and Ron Paul at least bow in its direction, as do Rick Perry and Sarah Palin. Last month, there were hundreds of "Restoring American Exceptionalism" events during National School Choice Week (Jan. 22-28, 2012), under the leadership of […]

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Gel did good

Nekesa Mumbi Moody, "Adele top winner with 6 Grammys", AP (in Boston Globe) 2/12/2012: "Mom, gold is good!" Adele shouted as she took the album of the year trophy. The corresponding audio: [Audio clip: view full post to listen]

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