Tag Archives: language

The root of beauty …

… is boldness, wrote Pasternak. “That is what’s brought us to one another.” Apropos: After Wolfgang Pauli had given a colloquium on some ideas related to particle physics, Pauli said to Neils Bohr: “You will probably think that what I … Continue reading

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Abandoning One’s Mother Tongue

I had not thought this possible. A very poignant story via the great Language Log.

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Real Words

One of the best pure writers I have ever seen was a psychology student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University named Emily (she gave me permission to use her first name). She could amalgamate and compress numerous, complex source articles into a … Continue reading

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More on Clichés …

From professor Jonathan Mayhew: One of Orwell’s sillier pieces of writing advice is “Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.” Orwell advises “scrapping of every word or idiom which … Continue reading

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Clichés Used in Journalism

The Washington Post compiles a helpful list; it’s up to 200. I am guilty of using the following in speaking (and the first one listed here in writing, too – alas): Any “not-un” formulation (as in “not unsurprising that you’d … Continue reading

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No Word

A friend in the media emailed me this morning: “Everyone keeps talking about hostages having been taken in Paris. Doesn’t the word ‘hostage’ imply a demand on the part of the terrorists? They made no demands; they intended all along … Continue reading

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Ricotta / Ree-goat

In Fairport, New York, where I grew up, there were lots of Italian American families, and I had many Italian American friends (still do). I married an Italian American from Liverpool, New York, and have a son from this marriage … Continue reading

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“Epic translation success”

Read more at the always alert, amusing, and erudite Language Log.

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On Poetry

My friend Jonathan Mayhew has been on a tear of late, publishing a series of manifestos on poetry in his wonderful blog, Stupid Motivational Tricks. Some snippets (but read the whole thing): Manifesto (1) Nobody knows what poetry is for. … Continue reading

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The “trick to ambiguity”

From the great Language Log: Most of the ambiguity contained in normal language use is passed over without any awareness on the audience’s part of the potential for double meanings. If one of the two intended meanings in an ad … Continue reading

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