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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Old rivalries, old words

The reappearance of “caliphate” and “the Levant”

From a language point of view, what's happening in Iraq, Syria, and environs has revived words that have not been... More

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How to tell if you’re using ‘irony’ or ‘sarcasm’

It’s a fine line

A father and daughter were deep in discussion over breakfast at a diner. "That's not irony, that's sarcasm," the father... More

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‘Civil’ versus ‘sectarian’ conflicts

How to pick the most accurate war word

Iraq is now faced with an escalation of "sectarian violence," and Syria is still ensnared in its "civil war." Those... More

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Accentuate the positive

When to use diacritics

English has no accents, formally known as diacritical marks, or diacritics. But many words that arrived from other languages do... More

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Words associated with weddings

Inspiration hat-tip to Kim and Kanye

The recent wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West presents an opportunity to discuss the snarky "announcement" that ran in... More

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Squirreling away the eggcorns

A collection of misleading phrases

We've discussed "eggcorns," phrases so tantalizingly close to idioms or common expressions that they actually make some sense, twisted though... More

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Finishing school

Words associated with graduation

It's graduation season, a good time to look at some of the words and ceremonies associated with this rite of... More

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Effusive suffixes

Adding -age to a word may sound fancy, but it’s usually unnecessary

A marketing website offered a course called "Storytelling Through Reportage Video Production." "Reportage is defined as the act of reporting... More

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Avoid ‘venue’ and ‘facility’

When naming buildings in a story, specificity is key

In the 1964 printing of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, College Edition, "facility" has four definitions, only... More

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Language Corner

Unbalanced

Not only does grammar like order, it likes balance. And that first sentence is unbalanced. Just as either needs or,... More

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Famous lost words

Misplaced phrases or modifiers

Word people love to have fun with misplaced modifiers. The most recognized of these are dangling participles, where a phrase... More

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Ker-choo!

To catch a sneeze

In honor of allergy season, here's a riddle: What word's first syllable is pronounced differently than the way it is... More

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Pretentious, or quaint?

Amongst, amidst, whilst

The headline on a recent article in a Tennessee newspaper said the local teachers were "among best-paid" in the state.... More

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Wal-Mart. Walmart. wal*mart.

The company is inconsistent, but the AP isn’t

One style change the Associated Press has made recently is to decide that the giant discount chain based in Bentonville,... More

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Closer than it appears

Farther vs. further

Now that The Associated Press has dropped the distinction between "over" and "more than" for quantities, perhaps it's time to... More

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So over it

The reaction to a rule change

Far too much has already been written about The Associated Press's announcement last week that it would begin allowing the... More

Serial creators don’t know what will happen to Adnan Syed - New developments in his legal case suggest that the outcome is wide open

The press is responsible for ignoring Bill Cosby rape allegations - Where were journalists 10 years ago when claims originally surfaced against him?

Journalism has a plagiarism problem. But it’s not the one you’d expect - Fareed Zakaria’s case highlights news organizations’ ethical grey areas

4 topics John Oliver explained more clearly than television news - The political satirist brings explainer comedy to HBO viewers

Will radio save science journalism? - WNYC will soon have a new health unit


CNN reporters in Ferguson provide coverage of CNN reporters in Ferguson (Slate)

“[T]here was little that justified CNN’s egocentric coverage”

Which media outlets use ‘illegal immigrant’? (Fusion)

“[I]n spite of all the good reasons not to use the phrase, it is still very easy to find in the US press, even in headlines”

Jack Shafer on losing his job (Capital New York)

“Right now, my immediate plan is to go to work as a lay therapist at The Intercept to bring the healing there so John Cook and Matt Taibbi can return. I have great interpersonal skills.”

On outlets that continue to call unknown drone victims ‘militants’ (The Intercept)

“Like the US drone program itself, this deceitful media practice continues unabated”

Bloggingheads

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

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