There’s a new novel out, published earlier this month, that will probably appeal to glossophiles (and Glosso-philes) everywhere. Describing itself, as books can do proverbially these days, the novel by best-selling author Cathleen Schine “celebrates the beauty, mischief, and occasional treachery of language.” Continue reading
“I am allergic to those words. We have fallen into the culture of adjectives and adverbs, and we have forgotten the strength of nouns.” So proclaimed Pope Francis in a rant against descriptive words during a speech on Monday. (Sic)
Originally posted in 2013, and then updated last year when it came back into the news …
Update: The censored cake … With the word “cum” back in the news today, Glossophilia is happy to republish one of its most popular posts.
* * Warning: contains strong language * * Language advisory: viewer discretion advised * *
I was watching Masters of Sex the other night on Showtime, and it struck me that Masters and Johnson were using the word come a lot. And they weren’t meaning the opposite of go. (It didn’t escape my notice that they also seemed to be coming a lot — but that’s another story…) I know these ground-breaking sex researchers of the 1950s and ’60s were famously ahead of their time, but not in their word choices — and their use of this particular piece of sexual terminology sounded weirdly anachronistic to me. I really thought that this word “come” was a more modern invention… Continue reading
As The Week reported last week: “Since January, President Trump’s re-election campaign has posted more than 2,000 Facebook ads focusing on immigration that use the word “invasion,” the New York Times reported. He also used the word “invasion” in several tweets regarding immigrants at the border. Trump’s word choice is in the spotlight following Saturday’s massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, which left at least 22 people dead. The suspect is believed to have written an online screed ahead of the attack, declaring it “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Data from Bully Pulpit Interactive, a Democratic communications firm tracking 2020 presidential candidates’ digital advertising, shows that since late March, Trump has spent an estimated $1.25 million on Facebook ads about immigration.”
Donald Trump isn’t the only world leader who has used the words “invasion” and “invaders” with political (and malevolent) intent. As Lynne Tyrrell explained yesterday in The Guardian: “A 1992 speech by Rwandan political leader Leon Mugesera is widely considered to have launched genocidal mobilization in Rwanda. Mugesera repeatedly called Rwanda’s Tutsis “invaders”. Like Trump, who recently said that four Democratic congresswomen should go back to “the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” Mugesera said that the Tutsi “invaders” should be sent back to where they came from: “I am telling you that your home is in Ethiopia, that we will send you by the Nyabarongo so you can get there quickly.” The Nyabaraongo river runs to the Nile. After steady repetition of this rhetoric, the river grew clogged with Tutsi bodies during the genocide. Sending them back to Ethiopia, literally. Words became horrific action.”
An installment of The Duchess of Sussex’s now defunct lifestyle blog, “The Tig”, has been doing the rounds, thanks to People magazine. Describing in hungry detail what Meghan Markle wrote about five years ago on the subject of “the sweetest tradition [she] can think of,” People quotes liberally from the former actress’s July 2014 post in which she listed her summer literary “favs” and those of some of her Suits co-stars. I caught a couple of little gems in The Duchess’s post — both sparkling prettily in the same paragraph. Can you spot them? (Clue: I wrote about one of them in a very recent Glosso post. The other one just made me giggle.) Here’s the paragraph in question: Continue reading
Last night the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee came to a close just after midnight with a historic eight-way tie.
“A superhuman group of adolescents broke the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday, with eight contestants crowned co-champions after the competition said it was running out of challenging words. … It was a stunning result…for the 92nd annual event, which has had six two-way ties but had never before experienced such a logjam at the top. After the 17th round, Jacques Bailly, the event’s pronouncer, announced that any of the eight remaining contestants who made it through three more words would share in the prize.” The New York Times has the story.
The 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee had 565 contestants and was won by eight co-champions who had lasted through 20 rounds.
In recent language, spelling and grammar news: bad spelling at the races; a CIA grammatical blunder; how not to teach grammar; a school changes its name from a bad pun; and more … Continue reading
In recent language news: a trilingual pop artist, singing trilingually; a dating trend gets a trendy name; a capital city changes its name; a typeface makeover; and more … Continue reading
Pencil-neck: definition from Oxford English Dictionary: Continue reading
We’re going to focus on just two news stories this past week, both of which gave us a lesson in English vocabulary that we really didn’t need. We were introduced, respectively, to a vulgar slang word and an old derogatory term for unmarried women. The first lesson was taught to us by a Right Honourable former Member of Parliament – who has served, incidentally, as Mayor of London and Foreign Secretary, and who (I believe) still has his eye on the Big Job in Britain – during a radio interview. The other was given to us in a very dubious tweet — but not (somewhat surprisingly) from the great orange Tweeter himself. …