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News flash: Congresscritters using slightly shorter words and sentences

And this is apparently a Bad Thing. Tamara Keith, "Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th-Graders, Analysis Shows", NPR Morning Edition, 5/21/2012: Every word members of Congress say on the floor of the House or Senate is documented in the Congressional Record. The Sunlight Foundation took the entire Congressional Record dating back to the 1990s […]

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A few million monkeys (yawn)

Language Log readers may be wondering why there has been no coverage of the achievement of Jesse Anderson, who has managed to get millions of monkeys, as computationally simulated on Amazon servers, to reproduce 99.9 percent of the works of Shakespeare (his own account is here on his blog, and various journalistic sheep have obediently […]

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"Dictionary love for Palin"

There was some grumbling on the American Dialect Society list last week after the New Oxford American Dictionary announced its selection of refudiate as Word of the Year (like Christmas decorations, these days the WOTYs go up before people have even ordered their Thanksgiving turkeys). The choice was a blatant publicity stunt, some said, and […]

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More on the stupidity of Kathleen Parker

I have completed a reanalysis of the verbs in President Obama's speech after the BP oil disaster, and can add a further note to Mark's analysis of Kathleen Parker's unbelievably irresponsible prattle about how the frequency of passive constructions chosen by his speechwriters shows that President Obama talks like a girl (is "suffering a rhetorical-testosterone […]

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Mark Steyn uses the passive to avoid passivity

Following up on my post "Rhetorical testosterone and analytical hallucinations" (7/1/2010), Linda Seebach sent a link to a column in which Mark Steyn complained about president Obama's "passivity" ("Obama's lazy tribute to Daniel Pearl", 5/21/2010): Like a lot of guys who've been told they're brilliant one time too often, President Obama gets a little lazy, […]

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Rhetorical testosterone and analytical hallucinations

In her most recent column ("Obama: Our first female president", 7/1/2010), Kathleen Parker argues that Barack Obama writes like a girl: If Bill Clinton was our first black President, as Toni Morrison once proclaimed, then Barack Obama may be our first woman President. […] No, I'm not calling Obama a girlie President. But … he […]

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Language guru runs with the journalistic pack

[Update 6/20/2010 — The linked CNN story has been extensively modified, for the better. The headline is now "Language mavens exchange words over Obama's Oval Office speech," and the article now highlights Ron Yaros along with Payack, and incorporates some information from this post. Fev at headsuptheblog has some before-and-after analysis.] It's amazing what a […]

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Like Oreos, but braver

From the notorious Global Language Monitor: (Click on the image for a larger screenshot.)

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Millionth word story botched

Paul JJ Payack, after all the run-up, has botched the story of the millionth word. The most amusing thing was that he forgot to write a script that would stop updating his headline when the millionth word was hit and exceeded, so at 11:30 a.m. in the UK he had this headline at his Global […]

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End times at hand

It's almost over. The English Language WordClock is ticking inexorably towards its zero hour early Wednesday morning, marking the imagined birth of the mythical millionth English word. But what will happen then? The Million Word March FAQ over at the Global Language Monitor is silent on this subject. None of the journalists interviewing Paul Payack, […]

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Annals of spam

I last posted about spam comments on New Language Log in September, when the spam queue was nearing 9,000 items. Now it's over 77,000, and there have been waves of spam of many different types. We do get spam comments that take a moment's thought to discard. To start with, they're grammatical (while in the […]

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Forbes on neologisms, and the return of the million-word bait-and-switch

Forbes.com is running a special report on neologisms — a rather peculiar topic for Forbes, I suppose, but they put together a pretty decent lineup of contributors. From the Language Log family there's John McWhorter and me, with good friends of LL Grant Barrett and Mark Peters also pitching in. There really was no news […]

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Between libretto and lice

In connection with my difficult work on Language Log's "Financial Good News" desk, where things have been arduous and slow, I was looking something up in the American Heritage Dictionary earlier today (possibly liberalism, possible lien; to tell you the truth, I have forgotten what — something beginning with L, but I got sidetracked), when […]

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