“Tsk!” is a word that stands for something that isn’t a word that we use all the time because it’s not a word, but we mostly don’t use it for what we think we use it for. Here, let me explain in my latest article for The Week:
It’s been two and a half years since I last wrote an article for The Week. I’ve been meaning to get back into writing for them (meaning pitching articles to them and, when they greenlight a pitch – as they mostly do – writing it), and I’ve finally found the time and state of mind. This time around, it’s a topic that came up not so long ago on Twitter: the phrase “a fiction novel” – redundant or not? Read the article to get the goods:
My latest article for The Week is on accented characters, like ü and é. They’re not officially part of English spelling, but they just don’t go away. And in spite of some people’s uncoöperativeness, I don’t think they’re going to go away, either.
My latest article for The Week is about foods that are generally considered emblematic of the cultures we associate them with, but actually carry names that show their true origins in quite different cultures:
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:
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:
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:
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:
Patrick Neylan, Eeditor of business reports. Permanently angry about the abuse of English, maths and logic. Terms and conditions: by reading this blog you accept that all opinions expressed herein will henceforth be your opinions.
The Economist "Johnson" language blog
In this blog, named for the dictionary-maker Samuel Johnson, correspondents write about the effects that the use (and sometimes abuse) of language have on politics, society and culture around the world