Sunday, December 21, 2014. Last Update: Fri 5:42 PM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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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

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Either win(s)

Verbs to use with neither/either

Either I or they is playing tricks with your head. Last week, we said that it's OK to use "or"... More

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Language Corner

Orchestra pits

Bob Kamman writes that he's seen "orchestrated" or "carefully orchestrated" misused a lot. He quoted a New York Times article... More

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Neither regions

Using “nor” or not

Neither you nor I set the "rules" of English; we do it together, by using words in certain ways. But... More

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Small bites

Making big numbers more understandable

The wildfires are at it again: One near Colorado Springs was really big. How big? CNN said it was about... More

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New math

Keeping numbers simpler

Last week, we talked about how the words used to express numbers can help (or confuse) readers. Now, let's talk... More

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Countdown

Help with numbers

Math is hard for many people, though it's often not the numbers that cause so many problems, but the words... More

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Between ‘us’ and ‘I’

Getting stuck on plurals

The editors were discussing a story about the health benefits of a particular type of cactus, and maybe others. The... More

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Pleas-ing words

Prepositions and crime

One man "pleaded guilty to DWI." Another "pled guilty of DWI." A third "entered a plea of guilty to DWI... More

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Grammar police

Zealousness over correctness

The New York Times recently posted an opinion piece and a short film about a "vigilante copy editor" who was... More

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Letter perfect

Why English is so hard

The cashier at the fancy foods store was from Bosnia. "I have so much hard time with English," she said.... More

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Language Corner

Plum loco

The witness, according to the news story, said the robbers were "plum crazy." Not unless they were robbing a green... More

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Participial con-fusion

When possession is the law

WARNING: Grammar lesson ahead. If you ever knew what a "participle" was, you may have forgotten. Same with the word... More

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Natal gazing

Of birth, and being borne

"I don't know nothing about birthing babies!" Butterfly McQueen told Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind. Those who believe... More

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Writing tics

The optics of metrics

The mayor's op-ed piece urged action on a regional 911 system, which, among other things, would "provide consistent and transparent... More

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Blame excuses

Where to point the finger

"Deer Creek blames fire on science experiment," read one headline. "Arsonist blames fire on living conditions," said another. Some people... More

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Season openers

Baseball terms and myths

Major league baseball season gets under way this week, so let's throw out the first ball, left-handed. That's called "southpaw."... More

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Unpalatable

A plateful of similar words

The artists were being praised for their technique in which, the article said, they "use only pallet knives, not brushes."... 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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