Friday, October 31, 2014. Last Update: Fri 6:50 AM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

words.jpg

The history of ‘wrestle’

Getting to the root of the word

The football player "wrestled" the ball away from an opponent and scored a touchdown. Shareholders "wrestled" control of a company... More

stache.jpg

There are a lot of ways to misuse ‘hirsute’

Hairy vocabulary

We're going to make things a little "hairy" this week, in several senses of the word. "Hirsute" means "hairy," but... More

skunk.jpg

How common descriptors fall out of favor

The ‘skunking’ of ‘Oriental’

Once upon a time, as far back as 40 years or so, language pedants would not use "hopefully" to mean... More

very_old_computericon.jpg

Why you use your ‘logon’ to ‘log on’

It’s all about the adverbs

Time to start work. So you "log on" to your computer, using your "logon" or "log-on," or your user name.... More

fox_business.jpg

Beware journo-speak

Only journalists would call a tragedy a “mishap”

The public editor for The New York Times, Margaret Sullivan, wrote a wonderful piece last month about how word selection... More

burtonhamlet.jpg

Shakespeare didn’t say that

Lines that are (mis)attributed to the Bard

Hell hath no fury like a writer scorned, and, should Shakespeare be alive today, he might feel much scorn'd. People... More

shakespeare.jpg

Fractured Shakespeare

All that glitters isn’t gilding

Much time has pas’t since Language Corner has revisited Shakespeare, or what passes for Shakespeare these days. A slight refresher... More

citibike.jpg

A fancy word for ‘custom’

Bespoken for

An article labeled as news fawned last week over the new Jaguar XE, which was introduced in London in a... More

lcdictionary.jpg

How to properly use [sic]

Hint: Not often

Twitter, Facebook, email, and the like are great reporting tools, allowing reporters access to more sources, wider reporting, and more... More

beer vocab.jpeg

Very important alcohol vocabulary tips

Foment vs. ferment

"Both sides are just trying to ferment a war," a blog posting said of the situation in the Middle East.... More

lcdictionary.jpg

Hyphen use disappearing

Is the web to blame for quick changes to language?

Language evolution is happening right in plain sight. “Off-site” and “on-site” are in the process of becoming “offsite” and... More

pterodactyl.jpg

Fun with mnemonics

If you’ve been writing ‘pneumonic,’ you’ve got it all wrong

A friend wrote that she had a great way of remembering a complicated topic. "I created a pneumonic device," she... More

mw.JPG

Why words have multiple acceptable spellings

More on the new edition of Webster’s New World College Dictionary

Last week, we talked about the new, fifth edition of Webster's New World College Dictionary, and some things in it... More

dictionary.jpg

Webster’s new dictionary means change for journalists

Internet is still capitalized

Webster's New World College Dictionary has a fifth edition. Big whoop, you say. But this is not just any dictionary:... More

leap.jpg

The history of using ‘quantum’ to mean ‘really big’

It’s best to avoid using just plain “quantum” to mean “huge”—especially if addressing a physicist

Verizon offers "Even faster FiOS Quantum Internet" speeds. Duracell has a new Quantum alkaline battery. James Bond had his Quantum... More

lcdictionary.jpg

Your head will spin: Uses of ‘naught,’ ‘aught,’ and ‘ought’

Time to start writing some tongue-twisters

If someone says "I know aught about football," the amount of knowledge could be a lot or nothing. That's because... More

lcdictionary.jpg

Gotcha!

Get, got, and gotten

A software program that acts as a super spelling checker often stops on the word "got," and asks, in effect,... More

lcdictionary.jpg

Wanton behavior

The difference between “want” and “wont”

In the 1700s, Garner's Modern American Usage says, Samuel Johnson declared an end to "wont." But, Garner's continues, "it hangs... More

gun.jpg

Measuring up

Uses of “gauge”

The word “gauge” plays several roles. It both measures something and is the measure of something. A speedometer, for example,... More

lcdictionary.jpg

Striking redundant expressions

Why use two words when one would do?

"Write tighter" is a plea most journalists have heard, probably more than once. One way to do so is to... More

The ethics of The Guardian’s Whisper bombshell - It would have been a journalistic lapse not to have told readers

Gawker: The internet bully - Nick Denton’s media empire is an intellectual online fraternity that invites people to their parties only to make them buy the booze

The Washington Post short-sells a reporter’s integrity - Steven Pearlstein smears TheStreet’s Adam Feuerstein for criticizing a biotech firm

Former Sun-Times staffers react to top reporter’s resignation - “Whereas we don’t have all the answers, we have way too many questions about what happened here”

Stop trolling your readers - We know you’re only doing it for clicks


Which news org is the most trusted? (Pew)

The answer is complicated

‘My Captivity’ (NYT Mag)

An American journalist on his two-year kidnapping in Syria

FBI faked an AP story, in Seattle Times style, to catch a suspect (Seattle Times)

“‘We are outraged that the FBI, with the apparent assistance of the US Attorney’s Office, misappropriated the name of The Seattle Times to secretly install spyware on the computer of a crime suspect,’ said Seattle Times Editor Kathy Best”

How one reporter copes inside the ‘Ebola bubble’ (BuzzFeed)

“Bring gloves to give nurses you meet at clinics, even if you’re there for a story. Get small change to give to the kids who have been out of school for months and are selling ground nuts for pitiful sums on the side of road. Hell, give them candy. Violate all the principles of ostensibly good aid stewardship, because the good stewardship of the developed world didn’t get help here in time, and now everyone is dying around you.”

Bloggingheads

Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute

  • If you like the magazine, get the rest of the year for just $19.95 (6 issues in all).
  • If not, simply write cancel on the bill and return it. You will owe nothing.

Who Owns What

The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Study Guides

Questions and exercises for journalism students.