Category Archives: The Week

How do you know who wrote it?

People – some people, anyway, I guess not all people – are abuzz about the anonymous op-ed printed in The New York Times by a senior White House person. Naturally, people want to know who the author is! But how can they know? One way some people are trying is through looking at word choice. It wouldn’t be the first time choice of words has seemed to unmask an anonymous author or a forger. But does it work? Read my latest article for The Week:

The delicate art of using linguistics to identify an anonymous author

 

Dash it all!

A recent spate of tweets from a regrettably well known person included something uncharacteristic that caught some people’s eyes:

You know, an en dash.

Well, some of you know, anyway. The editors sure do. One of the definitions of “editor,” after all, is “Someone who knows all the dashes and how to use each one.” But many other people are variably flummoxed by the assortment of floating horizontal lines available.

I’m an editor and I’m here to help. Presenting my latest article for The Week:

Dashes and hyphens: A comprehensive guide

Das Kapitalization

That’s it. I’ve thrown in the towel on capitalization. I am not going to say any way of capitalizing is wrong. Against House Style, sure. Trite, perhaps. Inventive, maybe; faddish, maybe. But wrong? Nah. Do as you will, as long as you can justify it. Have a look at the options that are Broke, WOKE, and BEspOKe:

The new rules of CaPiTaLiZaTiOn

Foreign accent syndrome

We learn a lot about how language works in the brain from cases where the brain doesn’t work quite right. Most of the time, something’s obviously broken, so it’s like dropping a bowl and picking up the pieces. But what if you drop a bowl and you get… a different style of bowl? My latest for The Week:

The curious case of people who can’t stop speaking in foreign accents

Are you like “I don’t, like, LIKE like ‘like’”?

My latest article for The Week is about a word almost everyone loves to hate – and yet we all still seem to like using it:

What’s not to like about ‘like’?

Genders of the world

My latest article for The Week is on grammatical gender and how it shows up in different languages – when it does. You’d think it might be a dry topic, but some people seem awfully exercised about it lately.

How the world’s languages handle thorny gender issues

The many names of Christmas: the podcast

A couple of years ago, I did an article for The Week on the names different languages have for Christmas, and how many of them have no “Christ” in them. This year we’ve made a podcast of it, so you can hear me actually say all these different names. It’s not that long…

Almost every language has a word for ‘Christmas.’ Few reference Christ.