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Needless repetition or necessary distinction?

I was having dinner with colleagues from my department recently when the topic of redundancy in language came up. ...

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Vegetable word histories

Several vegetables common to our gardens come from the Latin word for cabbage “caulis.” Through a series of ...

Columns

Myths that make monsters — Part IV

This is the fourth part in a series that challenges four fallacies or myths in our culture’s general ...

Church & Community

Myths that make monsters — Part III

This column is the third part in a series that challenges four fallacies or myths in our culture’s ...

Columns

Myths that make monsters — Part II

In a previous column, I started a discussion of myths that students often have about how language really ...

Columns

Myths that make monsters — Part I

A few years ago, I experienced something completely unexpected in a college classroom that continues to trouble me. I ...

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A bouquet of flower and plant word histories

Many of the flowers commonly found in our gardens have word histories worthy of note. For example, the ...

Columns

I hate it when you say that!

Recently, my friend Linda and I were talking about language, specifically about language that gets on our nerves. ...

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Is language change decay?

In order to be accurate, any description of language must always acknowledge two fundamental principles that are always ...

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Where words come from

One of the most fascinating aspects of language and something that interests almost everybody is how new words ...

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The aks vs. ask controversy

As I explained in an earlier column, there are two principles that are always at work in language. ...

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Between you and me: A grammatical misfortune in the making

These days, it is not uncommon for someone to be corrected for saying “That’s between you and me” ...

Columns

Do women really talk more than men?

In her book “Language Myths,” Janet Holmes notes that many languages in the world have sayings or proverbs ...

Columns

More on Appalachian English

When it comes to Appalachian English, myths and stereotypes abound. It is not uncommon for people outside the ...

Columns

Appalachian English in Virginia, Part 1

Dialectal differences capture our attention, especially those differences or points at which communication breaks down between two people ...

Columns

Losing -ed

It’s happening all around us and we don’t even seem to be aware of it. In fact, every ...

Columns

It’s really crappie!

Crap-pie (krap-e) n., pl. –pies. Either of two edible North American freshwater fishes, Pomoxis nigromaculatus, the black crappie, ...

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Pairs of words that cause problems

It is with more and more frequency for us to see confusion between pairs of words some of ...

Columns

The pesky apostrophe

Today’s column is dedicated to a grammar error which causes a great deal of irritation for those who ...

Columns

Sayings from different languages

Learning a different language is difficult and time consuming (although ultimately worth it) because different languages divide up ...

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