Saturday, September 20, 2014. Last Update: Fri 4:26 PM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Hamming it up

Too many ‘bad actors’

When it gets cold and wintry, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, "alongside acts of goodwill and kindness, a... More

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Language Corner

Naming rights

The New York Times recently added an entry to its eponymous stylebook, available only online: "In precise, traditional usage, an... More

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Tweaking ‘twerk’

Word of the Year lists

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Time for all the familiar clichés, misused or mispunctuated tho' they may... More

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Losing prepositions

When the little words get out of hand

"People hustle their way at the avenue, as the majority crossed onto the other side. Yellow-shirted men on navy blue... More

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Cast away

Do you live ‘on’ or ‘in’ an island?

Prepositions are funny things. Most of them are short words, but they can alter the meaning of a phrase or... More

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Paddle ball

Making a “racket” over “racquet”

Many people are hoping to get new tennis "rackets" this holiday season. But many people who play "racquetball" are hoping... More

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Acts of piracy

The history of ‘filibuster’

During Wendy Davis' "filibuster" of the Texas Senate in May, seeking to block a bill to limit abortions, Gov. Rick... More

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Fighting words

Libel, slander, and defamation

Last week, we promised that you were liable to be surprised by the differences between "libel," "slander," and "defamation." We... More

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Taking responsibility

Some uses of “liable” are likely to be questioned

A friend was handicapping the Academy Award nominations, though they're still months away. "Sandra Bullock is liable to win best... More

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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

Stop using ‘Brooklyn’ to mean hipster neighborhoods - Elite-oriented outlets typically only cover the borough’s most affluent, Manhattan-adjacent neighborhoods

The Reporters Committee is about to start suing people to help journalists - Katie Townsend joins the organization as its first litigation director

How a Nebraska newspaper kicked off a major prison sentencing scandal - The Omaha World-Herald found that hundreds of inmates were being released early

On media freedom, United Nations plays by its own rules - Months of international crises raises the stakes for reporting on the UN, but investigative journalists remain without a right to information

Keep calm and write a headline worth reading - Ease up on the exaggerations because someday you may need those explosive adjectives when a truly big story lands


Adviser of high school paper that refused to use ‘Redskins’ suspended (Student Press Law Center)

“Amid a months-long battle with administrators for editorial control … the Playwickian’s faculty adviser was suspended for two days this week”

Apple’s ‘warrant canary’ disappears (GigaOm)

Apple included language in its first Transparency Report to say that it had not been subject to a Section 215 Patriot Act request. That language is now gone.

Trend Piece (New Yorker)

Buzzword, buzzword, buzzword. Isn’t the buzzword on your mind now? Perhaps it is on other people’s minds? Read on or you’ll be clueless, dated, and without any friends in the world. Buzzword again!

This Is How Joanna Coles Changed Cosmo (Refinery29)

The British reporter-turned-editor has made good on her promises to bring politics to the magazine, win some very big-deal journalism awards, and secure the most interesting exclusive interviews

Bloggingheads

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

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