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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

And the Word of the Year Is…

Words that topped the lists

Lots of people and organizations have issued their “words of the year” lists. Whether some of the words they chose... More

Language, Free

Blogs for grammar geeks

In Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle makes lots of friends—and money for Macy’s—by sending customers elsewhere when Macy’s did... More

Yule Love This

Making a list of holiday expressions

A couple of years ago we discussed some of abuse that poor, misused apostrophes suffer this time of year, in... More

Homegrown

The living language

To look back at the early years of the Columbia Journalism Review is to look at how we used... More

On, Dasher!

A punctuation mark loved too much—or not enough

Many punctuation marks have different uses—think of the comma—but only a few leap off the page to a reader’s eye—as... More

Friendly Fire

Insulting without meaning to

As language and society evolve, words that were once considered merely slang sometimes take on an offensive odor. In the... More

Separation Anxiety

Smoothing comparative phrases

Black Friday is coming! And this one will be as big as, if not more hyped and crowded than, Cyber... More

Taking the Fifth

A dictionary, updated, adds and subtracts

The Fifth Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is out, cause for celebration for some and... More

Conjunction-itis

What about ifs, ands, or buts?

Many generations of students have had certain grammar “truths” drilled into their little heads. One is the “myth” that infinitives... More

Taking Names in Vain

Why we care, for Pete’s sake

You’re with your five-year-old at the ice cream shop, and she can’t decide which of the dozens of flavors to... More

Fermenting Revolution

Some terms associated with beer

With “Oktoberfests” popping up all over, it seems a good time to grab a “growler” and get “krausened.” The first... More

Making Introductions

Putting the cart before the tumbrel

Writers frequently introduce a topic or unfamiliar phrase, then define it, as in “The condemned rode to the gallows in... More

No Use

The “d” is (usually) not optional

The Northeast has been experiencing a bit of a resurgent summer*, so cool refreshments have been called for. You have... More

Only You Know

Once in a while, placement matters

OK, we’ll admit it: Most of the time you can put “only” anywhere in a sentence and no one will... More

Unequal Rights

All synonyms are not the same

Strunk and White’s Elements of Style counsels to avoid euphemism, and, as we wrote on the book’s fiftieth anniversary,... More

None of the Above

Plural or singular? Yes.

How many of you were taught that “none” stands for “no one,” and must always take a singular verb? Bet... More

Bodily Functions

The scent of a language

The scene may have been a long coach ride or a London park bench on a hot day, but the... More

Talking Back

‘Revert’ gains a new meaning

The recruiter was pleased that the law firm was interested in one of his clients. “I will revert with candidate... More

Against Semantic Satiation

Some new words to learn after a wild week

After a week in which the East suffered through earthquakes and a hurricane, we could all use a little entertainment.... More

Going Strait

Narrowing down the difference between “strait” and “straight”

When two words sound the same and have similar meanings, you know they’re going to merge eventually. But until they... 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

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