Category Archives: Words

C’est Monyafeek

This is (yet another) celebration of the way Neal Stephenson uses language and the illustration is taken (yet again) from his Anathem. You need to know a little bit about the story or you won’t be able to share the … Continue reading

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The -ize has it

Now I think that’s just fun.  It sounds wrong, of course, but it probably isn’t.  It sounds like “eyes,” which would require a plural verb, “have.”  But -ize is not a noun, like “eyes;” it is a “word-forming element” used … Continue reading

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Viral Falsehoods

The English language—no, the American language—has a “don’t fence me in” style. In the soil of the American language, any word can become invasive. I remember thinking, when I first heard the expression “a fun party,” that it had happened … Continue reading

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A Klan of “Karens”

You may have heard about the fuss kicked up by Amber Lynn Gilles at the Starbucks in San Diego. The short version is that she didn’t wear a mask, as store rules required her to do, and was not served. … Continue reading

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Strong women

Where I live, people want women to be “strong.”  That is the official sentiment, at any rate.  That seems to me to be asking for too little.  Maybe I can introduce my concern by coming at it from the other … Continue reading

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A Non-conversation about the COVID-19 Virus

In today’s New York Times (March 26), Nicholas Kristof and Russell Moore had a non-conversation about the COVID-19 virus.   Kristof, with co-author Stuart Thompson and with the help of some statistical model builders, published an interactive graph on the … Continue reading

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The Norms of Political Rhetoric

Here are two observations made in Thomas Edsall’s column in the New York Times today.  I think the two comments belong in different contexts, but I am going to join them today, because I think they also mean more together. … Continue reading

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Happy birthday, Dale

One of the treasures of 2019 was an acquaintance with the word paraprosdokian. None of my online dictionaries has it, but Wikipedia—bless their hearts—has this. A paraprosdokianis a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence, phrase, … Continue reading

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All seated on the ground

As I have been reading texts more carefully (the reasons for which need not detain us at the moment) I have found all kinds of little fragments of language that you can read right through or listen right through and … Continue reading

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The bird needed to be flipped

This very unusual expression was used—I am tempted to say “coined,” because I have never heard it before—by my friend, Bob Nightingale. He was describing a situation I didn’t see, myself, although I was there. But I knew what he … Continue reading

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