Friday, April 18, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:50 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

You Spell Potato, I Spell Potatoe

Spelling “foreign” words

If you read The New York Times, you’ve run across news of things happening in the Saudi Arabian city “Jidda.”... More

Sacrilegious

“Secular” moves from the church to the state

We’re living in a “secular” time. Well, duh. Of course it’s “secular”; America has no state religion, as in Israel... More

Uncoupling

Is it OK to omit the “of” after “couple”?

The coach was talking about his latest trade, which he said was “hopefully the first of several deals to come... More

What’s All the Fuss?

Describing an uproar with fun words

Journalists love words, and many will go out of their way to find “special” ways of using unusual words. Sometimes... More

False Alarms

What the fire department doesn’t tell you

The fire department was having a busy day. First it was the “two-alarm” fire and then came the “six-alarm” one.... More

Jumping Off ‘Allege’

The criminalization of a word

It’s virtually impossible to pinpoint when the misuse of a word or phrase becomes so common that it’s no longer... More

Compounded Interest

Pick your prefix: “dis” or “un”?

You’ve gotten into a dispute with a merchant, who sold you what you think is defective merchandise. Because the merchant... More

As You Like It

Avoiding “such as” problems

Journalists often have difficulty with highly focused grammatical concepts like subject-verb agreement, dangling participles, whether “none” is plural or singular,... More

Sick-Out

What do you say when you call?

You’re not feeling well. Maybe it’s the swine flu—or the Mexican flu or H1N1—but you don’t want to take any... More

Freelance-A-Lot

Defining the terms of employment

What happens to many journalists who are laid off? in many cases, they become “permalancers,” sometimes even for their previous... More

I Want to Be Alone

Why one transition should disappear

Journalists are pack animals. If someone does a story, others often follow. So it is, too, with words and phrases.... More

Caution! Merge Ahead

How two words become one

Two-word expressions often cause trouble when they are combined with yet a third word, becoming compound modifiers. Most journalists have... More

Let’s Not Fight About It

It’s arguably not worth it

For unknown reasons, English speakers insist on making the language more difficult than it already is, by modifying words to... More

The Golden Years

Happy fiftieth birthday, Strunk & White

April 16 was the fiftieth anniversary of the release of The Elements of Style, the “little book” that so many... More

Serial Killer

Why the ‘serial comma’ isn’t important

You know it, and you love it or hate it—it’s the last comma in a simple series, the one before... More

Snark Hunt

The search for the true meaning

Sometimes, dictionaries just don’t get it. this one will define a word one way; that one will define the same... More

Hopefully Yours

Is “full of hope” full of it?

“Hopefully,” Americans have been watching the first overseas visit of President Barack Obama. Those Americans who were taught English and... More

Firing Blanks

Is everyone who loses a job “fired”?

The day Brenda Starr has been dreading has arrived. Her new boss, Mr. Bottomline, says she has become too expensive.... More

Stop, Fief!

A long-term lease on a made-up word

Let us travel back to those thrilling days of feudalism, when lords were lords and everyone else paid high taxes... More

Waif Goodbye

How various dictionaries define the word “waif”

Let’s say you find a “waif” on the street and take it home. Should you call an orphanage, an animal... More

16 women whose digital startups deserve Vox-level plaudits - A look at the media entrepreneurs who aren’t grabbing headlines

Why was ‘Dasani’ shut out of the Pulitzers? - 5 problems with The New York Times’ ambitious, influential series on the life of one homeless Brooklyn girl

The AP downplays its Obamacare scoop - Repeal on deductible caps marks another step in The Great Cost Shift

The enduring pull of mag covers - Why do magazine cover images still hold so much cultural power in this decline-of-print era?

Michael Wolff’s digital media bloopers - The Newser founder trolls (other) digital-news companies


The shirt on your back

How did the clothes you’re wearing get to you? We trace the human cost of the Bangladeshi garment industry in video, words and pictures

Anxious royalist

Fantastic letter in The Times

Coming out as a porn star

How do you tell your family and friends?

The truth about Google X

A look behind the secretive lab’s closed doors

New Jersey’s good government

Despite the bridge scandal, Chris Christie’s state is relatively transparent and accountable. CJR’s Greg Marx talks to Gordon Witkin

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