Archive | Language/Lit

Pedantry with weeklyrob

I mentioned to some friends today that I should start a podcast called: Pedantry with weeklyrob. And I was assured that such a podcast, coming from me, would be “apt.” Instead, I’ll just write a blog post about the particular piece of pedantry that inspired me to suggest the podcast. When people talk about an […]

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Credit Where Credit is Due

Every once in a while, I read “The Little Engine That Could” to my daughter. (It’s not fun, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Even my daughter doesn’t like the story; she just digs the illustrations.) Whenever people talk about that book, the point seems to be that the little engine was so great. She thought […]

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So I’m almost finished reading Superfreakonomics. Everyone is already talking about the climate change thing, so I won’t. The book has interesting bits, but they also seem to be stretching a lot in order to say shocking things. And I find myself arguing with them a lot. “But,” I say, “that doesn’t take into account,” […]

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Sex in the Dictionary

Not sex, really, but words that refer to sexual acts. This Slate article, by the editor-at-large of the Oxford English Dictionary, sheds light on the difficulty of defining sexual words that some people would rather not see in the dictionary. And not just the words, but phrases that use those words in proper context. Don’t […]

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Not Necessarily

It’s not a big deal, but some people have a habit of throwing the word “necessarily” into odd places in a sentence. “We wouldn’t necessarily want to be disemboweled by a grizzly bear, so we’re bringing bear repellant.” “Necessarily” there doesn’t really mean anything that a dictionary could help you understand. But listeners usually just […]

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Looking for a Good Book?

The Man Booker prize is about to be announced. Check out the short list. I haven’t read any of them. (Here’s a set of condensed versions of each book, apparently with spoilers.) The National Book Foundation presents its 5 under 25 list of five great young writers. I’ve read only one story by one author […]

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I Like Dictionaries (but there's a new thesaurus out)

I really do like dictionaries. For example, I’m very happy with my 4th edition of the American Heritage behemoth, with the color illustrations and nicely colored head words. But my favorite is the “Shorter” Oxford English Dictionary (two big, fat volumes). According to their marketing literature, this dictionary contains all the “vocabulary current in general […]

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Next Generation Hand-Wringing

I’ve commented several times about how how wrong-headed some people are about technology (here, and here, and here). In short, Facebook and iPods really really really aren’t ruining society or creating people who can’t communicate. So I guess it’s obvious where I stand. There’s a new book out, A Better Pencil, which explains that the […]

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