Archive | Language/Lit

Chimps and Monkeys

A chimp isn’t a monkey, ok? Monkeys are chattering nincompoops compared to chimps, our closest living relatives. Chimps are smart. They build social networks, use tools, and have been taught sign language. They can think abstractly. My daughter has a book. In this book, you take magnets shaped and colored to represent animals, and you […]

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Writer's Block and Rough Drafts

I do a lot of writing, so I’m familiar with the most terrifying of sights: A blank page. You’re in the middle or beginning of writing and you’re stuck about what to do next. You just look at that page and look at it and look at it until you suddenly wake up in a […]

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It's a New Decade!

I’m suddenly responsible for a bi-monthly newsletter that shall go nameless in these pages (at least until I’m no longer responsible for it). I wasn’t responsible for it when it mentioned that 2010 was the beginning of a new decade, but I do have to suffer the slings and arrows of outraged pedants. They want […]

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Sanitizing History

My most recent post reminded me of reading old books that are hostile to Jews. Though I’m Jewish, I never for a second thought that the book should be banned or sanitized the way that SOME people want to ban or sanitize the books I mentioned. (I could see a modern publisher correcting some of […]

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Conrad and the N-Word

A few years ago, I quoted from an article about a woman who wanted to ban “To Kill a Mockingbird”: “She acknowledged she hadn’t read the entire book, but strongly felt if it had the word “nigger” in it, it shouldn’t be used in schools.” Obviously, the woman didn’t read enough to know that the […]

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I'm Reading: The Cretan Runner

Not Cretin. Cretan. From Crete. It’s a first-hand account of the resistance in Crete against the Germans in WWII. The author (George Psychoundakis) was a “runner,” delivering information and people to and from pockets of resistance in the hills and mountains. Sometimes he’d guide people down to the shore where English submarines were waiting to […]

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What do the following names have in common? Ashley Carol Courtney Lauren Lindsay Marion Robin And more recently… Addison Madison Sydney Taylor Tyler Answer: They were all names for men which are now names for women. And there are more. Now here’s a list of names for women that have become names for men: —— […]

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Changing Words

I’ve posted before the idea that as words go from being considered unacceptable (like “irregardless”) to being completely acceptable (like “finalize”), there are at least two phases. I talked about the phases in the earlier post, so I won’t bother now. Tomorrow, my copy of the third edition of Garner’s Modern American Usage will arrive […]

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