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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Your head will spin: Uses of ‘naught,’ ‘aught,’ and ‘ought’

Time to start writing some tongue-twisters

If someone says "I know aught about football," the amount of knowledge could be a lot or nothing. That's because... More

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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

How Forbes got to $475 million - That’s what a Hong Kong investor has agreed to pay for a firm that two years ago had trouble paying its rent

Journalists subpoenaed in ‘pink-slime’ suit - BPI wants emails from NYT’s Michael Moss, public-health lawyer Michele Simon, and others

Bloomberg struggles to break out of the box - Justin Smith’s ambitious digital transformation hits some bumps

The Grand Dame of Florida reporting has retired twice, but she’s still causing trouble - A conversation with the Tampa Bay Times’ Lucy Morgan

Embedded with the Koch brothers - Hometown reporters get rare access to the media-shy oilmen, with mixed results


Your iPhone can now make free encrypted calls (Wired)

The beginning of the end of burner phones?

The new face of Richard Norris (GQ)

“‘Richard?’ I say. ‘Richard?’ I shove his shoulder and nothing happens. He is dead. He is on my watch and he is dead. I hear gurgling. Breathing. He’s on my watch and he is not dead.”

How to be a decent entertainment reporter (Eric Danton)

“Here’s how not to suck at it: Don’t write like an entertainment reporter”

A First Look update (First Look Media)

“[R]ather than immediately launching a large collection of digital ‘magazines’ based on strong, expert journalists with their own followings, as we imagined earlier, we’ll begin by building out the two we’ve started and then explore adding new ones as we learn”

Bloggingheads

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

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