Monday, September 15, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:50 PM EST

Author Archive

Articles by Merrill Perlman | Email the Author

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Bell curves

Lots of “ring” words

“You must be a ringer,” the journalism instructor told the student, who insisted that, though he had many years of... More

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Memorializing

What to call those piles of flowers

Bob Kamman, a regular correspondent, writes: When unexpected deaths occur that are newsworthy, what often happens is that people leave... More

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En-gendered

Terms for sexual identity

Dealing with gender identity these days is a tricky business. And while we prefer to use “sex” to describe biological... More

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Sentimental journey

Evaluating a ‘journeyman’

The article’s headline promised a story “on the life of a journeyman musician.” It discussed a man who has been... More

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Your choice

Alternating between alternatives

Cities that have hard winters have no “alternative” and must repair roads in the summer. And when they do, they... More

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Par for the course

Putting golf terms in context

Let’s say you’ve just arrived from another planet, with a mastery of English, but little exposure to the popular sport... More

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Digging in

The etymology of a “clawback”

“Jamie Dimon: JPMorgan Will Likely Claw Back Pay From Responsible Executives,” the headline said. Dimon, JPMorgan’s chief executive, was telling... More

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Out of range

Everything from 1 to z

We love to “range.” When describing a new shopping mall, for example, an article might say: “It has everything from... More

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Empty pockets

A phrase with several meanings

Max Crittenden posted on Language Corner’s Facebook page: I’m seeing some peculiar usage (misuse, to my mind) of the phrase... More

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Language Corner

Basis Points

“On a case-by-case basis.” “On a regular basis.” “On an urgent basis.” Each of those base expressions, from The Associated... More

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That’s that, part two

Keeping a reader on the right path

Last week we talked about the use of “that” after a verb of speech, like “said,” “acknowledged,” etc. This week,... More

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That’s that, part one

A word used too often, or not enough

“President Obama said Wednesday he would go to Europe.” Is Wednesday the day he is going to Europe? Or the... More

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Logue jam

A catalog of dialogues

“Catalogue” can also be spelled “catalog.” “Dialogue” can also be spelled “dialog.” But “monologue” is rarely spelled “monolog.” The Americans... More

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No fun

Noun? Verb? Yes. Adjective? Well …

The journalism professor was not having much “fun” explaining things to her feature-writing students: “I know so fun is wrong... More

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Organically Grown

The DNA of new words

Language evolves. New words and concepts show up and catch on—“app,” “smartphone,” “podcast”—or die from disuse or dysfunction—“Y2K,” “newsreel,” “rad.”... More

Climate Change

Weathering a climax

An extension of a federal highway program passed the House recently, over the objections of some Democrats. “Even as they... More

Viva La Difference

Comparatively speaking

Am I “different than” you? Or “different from ” you? And does it matter? “Different than is often considered inferior... More

Locution, Locution, Locution

Fewer words take up less real estate

The Internet offers writers unlimited space and so, for many, their writing expands expansively. Readers, however, have limited attention spans.... More

Flat Out

Writers are “prone” to use the more familiar word

The gunman was “lying prone on his stomach.” He could have just been “prone,” and the writer could have saved... More

Not Just Desserts

How “junket” became a bad word

The good times were back on Wall Street, the news report said. Executives of a banking firm were staying at... More

The Tea Party is timeless - Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism In American Life reviewed

How misinformation goes viral: a Truthy story - Conservative media’s reaction to an Indiana University project shows how shoddy information can quickly become an online narrative

Do you know Elise Andrew? - The creator of the Facebook page “I fucking love science” is journalism’s first self-made brand

Goodbye and good luck to all of us - Dean Starkman on leaving CJR

When quitting goes viral - Thanks to social media, resignations get a global audience


Awareness, #Awareness, and Ray Rice (The Classical)

The coverage of Ray Rice’s punch is not translating into offering information on domestic violence

What would it take to send a cow to the moon? (Modern Farmer)

“We posed this question to NASA. They said they were too busy to answer.”

English gardeners deal with snail scourges by tossing them into their neighbors’ yards (WSJ)

“Ms. Vickers admits that her snail-throwing habit is ‘very naughty’”

Bloggingheads

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

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Who Owns What

The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

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Questions and exercises for journalism students.