Saturday, November 29, 2014. Last Update: Wed 10:50 AM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Don’t tread on me

The difference between “trample” and “trammel”

The requirement of the Affordable Care Act that employers provide access to free contraceptives "trammels the right of free exercise"... More

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Language Corner

Next of kin

We have mothers-in-law, fathers-in-law, sons- and daughters-in-law, sisters- and brothers-in-law. But what should you call the parents of your child's... More

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Aggressive passive

Why active voice is not always better

Strunk & White hated it. George Orwell did, too. Nearly every grammar text and English teacher say it: The passive... More

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Consensus taking

It’s okay to repeat yourself

If you're a journalist, you're often trying to save words, so you should try to eliminate redundancies in phrases like... More

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Coming soon

‘Imminent’ changes are afoot

In "eminent domain," a government can seize property for public use, as long as it compensates the owner. In "imminent... More

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Space age

A discussion of spaceage

A few years ago, a student journalist wrote a profile for a class that recalled how she found her calling:... More

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Place your bets

The difference between “gambling” and “gaming”

You have to be in Vegas for a conference, and you decide to while some time away at the slots.... More

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Sex-isms

Gender politics and their words

Spend time on Twitter or Reddit, or anywhere on the internet for that matter, and you'll learn lots of new... More

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Un-words

Prefixes that make opposites, or not

English has many prefixes that make a word into a negative or opposite: Add "non-" to "profit," for example, and... More

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Un-coordinated

When to use commas between adjectives

Recently, in a column about other things, we asked whether you needed a comma in the phrase "the large blue... More

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Misbegotten

When ‘get’ is in the past

The Revolutionary War split the colonies from England, and with it, American English began to split from British English. We... More

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Language Corner

Nuclear attainment

An editorial discussed Iran's "determined program to attain nuclear-weapons capacity." Later, it cited pressure on Iran "to halt its aggressive... More

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Sincere-ly yours

Hyphenating (some) adverbs

The "rules" under which hyphens are used to connect multiple modifiers, like "well(-)known man," are varied and difficult to remember.... More

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Exit lines

Many ways to describe death

When people die, the words used to describe their passing vary greatly, often depending on how close the writer was... More

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Bizarro world

Opposite idioms

In recent weeks, we talked about idioms that are misheard, and thus miswritten. Now, we'll discuss some idioms that say... More

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Sounds like…

All the ways we misspeak and write

For two weeks we highlighted phrases that are written from what people hear, sometimes with amusing results. A reader asked:... More

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Misbegottens

More twisted idioms

Last week, we talked about some idioms that have been twisted by people who write them as they hear them,... More

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Righting speech

When people misspell while talking

Here's a shocker: People don't talk the way they write, or the way they should write. They have accents; they... More

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Weathering heights

Unusual terms for not-so-unusual phenomena

Had the Weather Channel been around in the 1930s, it's possible that the period of severe drought, crop failure, and... More

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Body parts

Spelling malpractice

At a recent concert in Milwaukee, John Mayer dedicated a song to his girlfriend, Katy Perry, for helping him get... 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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A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

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