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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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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

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That tricky ‘e’

Making verbs out of nouns

We have occasionally invoked Tom Lehrer when discussing how the simple letter "e" can change the meaning of many words,... More

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Spellbound

Grammatically incorrect pop culture

In between National Grammar Day and the national conference of the American Copy Editors Society, let us lament that "popular... More

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What’s mine is yours

Joint possession

Happy National Grammar Day! The silence in the place of cheers is deafening. Grammar is a boring, regimented set of... More

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Language Corner

Naming rights

What do you call a revue of dancing soldiers? A "troupe" of "troops," of course. That was kind of a... More

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Wrong turns

Keeping readers off the “garden path”

Sentences have destinations, the place you want your readers to go to absorb the information you're delivering. Most are simple:... More

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Like-minded

A message gone awry

"Do your homework," a parent might say to a child, "or you won't get into Harvard." A typical response might... More

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Wishful thinking

On using the subjunctive

Many people make New Year's resolutions to start diets, saying, "I wish I were thinner." Six weeks later, many are... More

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Word choice and reader knowledge

Journalists should write with vocabulary most readers possess

We use words because they articulate what we want or need to say (we hope). But how do you know... More

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Since when?

Using a substitute for ‘because’

Since teaching grammar to children is so challenging, teachers often resort to "rules," using memory tricks to hammer them home.... More

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Through the wringer

Squeezing the meaning from “eke”

Sometimes, a photo "ekes out of the printer." Other times, electronics help "to eke out extra mileage" in cars. And... More

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Made up

Fictional, fictitious, fictive, and factitious

"Fiction," we all know, is something that is not true. So is "a lie." But they're not quite synonyms: Fiction... More

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Hamming it up

Too many ‘bad actors’

When it gets cold and wintry, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, "alongside acts of goodwill and kindness, a... More

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Language Corner

Naming rights

The New York Times recently added an entry to its eponymous stylebook, available only online: "In precise, traditional usage, an... More

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Tweaking ‘twerk’

Word of the Year lists

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Time for all the familiar clichés, misused or mispunctuated tho' they may... More

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Losing prepositions

When the little words get out of hand

"People hustle their way at the avenue, as the majority crossed onto the other side. Yellow-shirted men on navy blue... More

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Cast away

Do you live ‘on’ or ‘in’ an island?

Prepositions are funny things. Most of them are short words, but they can alter the meaning of a phrase or... More

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Paddle ball

Making a “racket” over “racquet”

Many people are hoping to get new tennis "rackets" this holiday season. But many people who play "racquetball" are hoping... More

Hey millionaire tech bros: Have patience with the editorial process - Chris Hughes probably wanted to enable great journalism at first. Then the dust settled and before you know it, he’s shaking everything up again

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

Price hike at UC Berkeley’s journalism school - Governing body approves additional fee of $7,500 starting 2016

Will Denver really have a newspaper war? - As a billionaire floats reviving the Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post might buckle its chin strap

FOIA reform dies while the press looked the other way - RIP Improvement Act of 2014


The traffic lure of outrage (Slate)

“I didn’t become a journalist to peddle indignation on Facebook. But it sells—the page views don’t lie.”

NBC news producer’s sons were in the besieged school in Peshawar (NBCnews.com)

“I remained silent and didn’t know what to say — I know how such attacks on schools usually end”

Hero mom calls into CSPAN to berate her arguing pundit sons (WaPo)

“This was not planned. She called in on the normal line.”

Dick Cheney doesn’t want to call it torture but the media doesn’t have to follow (Vox)

“People deserve to know that the American government (proudly!) did things that in any other context are called torture”

Bloggingheads

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

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