Writers need to love words—the good, the bad, and the irregular. And they need to respect syntax, the patterns that give words their form. But when writers understand the power of phrases, their sentences shine.
English has a big bagful of auxiliary verbs. You may know these as helping verbs as they help the main verb express its meaning.
During the news coverage of the COVID pandemic, I enjoyed seeing Dr Anthony Fauci on television and hearing his old-school Brooklyn accent. My favorite expression to listen for was his use of “down the pike” to mean “in the future.”
When people think about careers in writing, they may focus on writing novels or films, poetry or non-fiction. But for steady work, there is nothing like technical writing.
The realization started with the word akimbo. I had first learned it as meaning a stance with hands on the hips, and I associated the stance with the comic book image of Superman confronting evildoers. Body language experts sometimes call this a power pose, intended to project confidence or dominance.
When linguists talk about prosody, the term usually refers to aspects of speech that go beyond individual vowels and consonants such as intonation, stress, and rhythm. Such suprasegmental features may reflect the tone or focus of a sentence.
English noun phrases have something called a “temporal interpretation.” That’s linguist-speak for how we understand their place in time relative to the tense of the verb.
Reading Dan Chaon’s novel Sleepwalk last summer, I noticed his use of the verb itch to mean scratch.
When I received the letter granting me emeritus status, I naturally got curious about the etymology.
English spelling can be endlessly frustrating. From its silent letters (could, stalk, salmon, February, and on and on) to its nonsensical rules (i before e except ….), to the pronunciation of ough (in cough, through, though, and thought).
When we are moving briskly though a supermarket, skimming ads, or focusing on a big purchase, it’s easy to be a less-than-careful reader.
September means back to school for students, but for those of us in unions, it is also the celebration the American Labor Movement and a good opportunity for us to take a look at some of the language of the labor movement.
I’m intrigued by the not-so-great debate over the pronunciation of caramel, which is instructive both socially and linguistically. Is the word pronounced with that second a, as caramel or without it, as carmel?
I’ve been noticing compound possessives like Kace and I’s texts or at Paul and my home. Both examples struck me as a little odd.
I was teaching the history of the English Language and had just mentioned that, following the English Civil War, Charles I had been convicted of treason and beheaded.
A question came from the back of the classroom: “Why do we say beheaded and decapitated, not the other way around?”
Last summer, my city’s community forum had a post that generated considerable discussion about the meaning of the word kid. Our governor had announced, via Twitter, that “All Oregon kids ages 1-18, regardless of immigration status, can get free summer meals” from the state’s Summer Food Service Program.