Wednesday, September 03, 2014. Last Update: Tue 3:20 PM EST

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Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Bizarro world

Opposite idioms

In recent weeks, we talked about idioms that are misheard, and thus miswritten. Now, we'll discuss some idioms that say... More

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Sounds like…

All the ways we misspeak and write

For two weeks we highlighted phrases that are written from what people hear, sometimes with amusing results. A reader asked:... More

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Misbegottens

More twisted idioms

Last week, we talked about some idioms that have been twisted by people who write them as they hear them,... More

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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

Q&A: An Apple critic with plenty to say - John Siracusa’s legendary - and lengthy - Apple reviews reach their 15th year

Why one editor won’t run any more op-eds by the Heritage Foundation’s top economist - A reply to Paul Krugman on state taxes and job growth made some incorrect claims

4 topics John Oliver explained more clearly than television news - The political satirist brings explainer comedy to HBO viewers

Michael Brown shooting and the crimes journalists choose as newsworthy - Examining why black suspects are covered at a greater proportion than they commit crimes

GOP-backed fake news sites target Dems in congressional races - - Unlike The Onion and other satire sites, the goal is to fool voters, not make them laugh


New WaPo publisher (WaPo)

The departure of Katharine Weymouth ends eight decades of Graham family leadership

The impact of watching executions (PSmag)

“[E]xecutions, even for people who support capital punishment, and even when the criminals being put to death evoke little personal sympathy because of the nature of their crimes, take a toll on witnesses”

Times of India demands employee social media passwords (Quartz)

The company will possess log-in information and will be free to post any material to the account without journalists’ knowledge

Reconnecting with a story source, 17 years later (Hartford Courant)

“People who say reporters exploit people? You are right, we do. We parachute into people’s lives, sidle up, convince them that we care — and then disengage when the story is over. But that doesn’t mean we don’t connect, in a genuine way.”

Bloggingheads

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

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