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"Not a verb" is not an argument

This morning, when I checked out the website of The Atlantic, I saw an article by Megan Garber with the headline, "Gifting Is Not a Verb": Megan has written perceptively about language before, notably in her piece from last year, "English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet," which played a large role in bringing attention […]

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Twetiquette

According to John Metcalfe, "The Self-appointed Twitter Scolds", NYT 4/29/2010: A small but vocal subculture has emerged on Twitter of grammar and taste vigilantes who spend their time policing other people's tweets — celebrities and nobodies alike. These are people who build their own algorithms to sniff out Twitter messages that are distasteful to them […]

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Guys

Erin McKean, "Hey guys! Yes, ladies, this means you", Boston Globe, 3/21/2010: In the study of peevology, language subdivision, one of the more fertile areas of inquiry is the long list of things that people are annoyed to be called. Not the truly offensive terms — none of which can be printed here, and all […]

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"Annoying word" poll results: Whatever!

Proving once again that peevology is the most popular form of metalinguistic discourse in the U.S., the media yesterday was all over a poll from the Marist Institute for Public Opinion, purporting to reveal the words and phrases that Americans find most annoying. As was widely reported, whatever won with 47%, followed by you know […]

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Moving low-hanging fruit forward at the end of the day

Today's Dilbert:

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It's stylish to lament what has been lost

In a comment about yesterday's post "Geoff and the Language Guardians", Stephen Jones listed some of "the usual collection of nutters" who were featured on BBC Radio 4's Word of Mouth program, including "one who pretends there's a difference between 'disinterested' and 'uninterested'". Some other commenters politely expressed surprise and concern, including the suggestion that […]

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Angry linguistic mobs with torches

A couple of days ago, Andrew Mueller at the Guardian tossed some bleeding gobbets into the crowd of ravening peevologists ("Linguistic pedants of the world unite", 4/14/2008). His point of departure: For centuries, travellers have crossed America to explore it, conquer it, settle it, exploit it and study it. Now, a small but righteous crew […]

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