by Michelle Waitzman Most people take dictionaries for granted. They are available to us, at home or at school, from the time we first learn to read. Those of us who work with words rely on them regularly. But few of us spend much time thinking about how a dictionary is put together and kept … Continue reading Book Review: Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Crystal against crystallization by James Harbeck (Oxford University Press, 2017) How can we have crystal-clear language spoken by people with a crystal-clear understanding of how it works? For one thing, don’t try to crystallize it—just Crystal-ize. Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar, by David Crystal, is for anyone who wants to get Crystal … Continue reading Book Review: Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar by David Crystal
(Oxford University Press, 2017) By Christine Albert Some words are so familiar that it feels as though we instinctively know what they mean. And when we don’t, we use a dictionary to read its definition and determine how it can be placed alongside other words to form cohesive narratives. But how often do we think … Continue reading Book Review: The Story of Be: A Verb’s-Eye View of the English Language by David Crystal
The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, blog posts, and podcasts. If you read or hear something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected] By Carol Harrison Need a five-minute break from hacking and chopping and cursing the English language? Open Culture features a short lesson by … Continue reading The Nitpicker’s Nook: November edition
The Nitpicker’s Nook is a monthly collection of language-related articles, interviews, and blog posts. If you read something that would make a good addition, email your suggestion to [email protected] By Carol Harrison Thanks to Sara Scharf for her contributions and to Deven Knill for the lovely new banner image! Blimey! The Guardian’s Mona Chalabi … Continue reading The Nitpicker’s Nook: early October edition
(Chronicle Books, 2016) By Jaye Marsh Jungian analyst Robert Johnson’s oft-quoted words from his book The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden have stayed with me: "Sanskrit has 96 words for love, ancient Persian has 80, Greek three, and English only one." Given the English language's predilection for absorbing new words from many cultures, it … Continue reading Book Review: Other-Wordly: Words Both Strange and Lovely from around the World by Yee-Lum Mak
Correct usage of language is paramount to effective communication. The education system—from primary through post-secondary—does not offer students the tools needed for communicating effectively, whether verbally or in writing. The webinar is based on a workshop that was originally developed for the Canadian Authors' Association national conference, and has since been presented to numerous groups, … Continue reading Webinar: What’s wrong with this sentence?
What you learned in English class will help you with syntax about as much as what you learned in driving lessons will help you with mechanics—you get by fine until one day you find yourself stopped in the middle of a sentence with smoke coming out from under the hood. In this webinar, we're going … Continue reading Webinar: A linguist’s guide to grammar