Sunday, November 23, 2014. Last Update: Fri 2:45 PM EST

Language Corner

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Why words have multiple acceptable spellings

More on the new edition of Webster’s New World College Dictionary

Last week, we talked about the new, fifth edition of Webster's New World College Dictionary, and some things in it... More

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Webster’s new dictionary means change for journalists

Internet is still capitalized

Webster's New World College Dictionary has a fifth edition. Big whoop, you say. But this is not just any dictionary:... More

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The history of using ‘quantum’ to mean ‘really big’

It’s best to avoid using just plain “quantum” to mean “huge”—especially if addressing a physicist

Verizon offers "Even faster FiOS Quantum Internet" speeds. Duracell has a new Quantum alkaline battery. James Bond had his Quantum... More

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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

Why won’t journalists ask Bill Cosby the tough questions? - Sexual assault charges are hardly ever mentioned to the TV star

Knoxville’s alt-weekly wasn’t losing money. It got shut down anyway - Scripps pulls the plug on Metro Pulse in favor of an entertainment supplement for the local daily

Chuck Todd’s Obama book says more about the author than it does about the president - ‘The Stranger’ underscores a broader problem with the way we cover politics

Beware labeling Pope Francis a liberal - Political boxes like liberal/conservative and evolutionist/creationist miss his real significance

The Virginian-Pilot produces a breakthrough investigation amid layoffs - Reporter John Holland discusses how the story came together, newsroom cutbacks, and colleagues who cover for each other


Which media outlets use ‘illegal immigrant’? (Fusion)

“[I]n spite of all the good reasons not to use the phrase, it is still very easy to find in the US press, even in headlines”

Jack Shafer on losing his job (Capital New York)

“Right now, my immediate plan is to go to work as a lay therapist at The Intercept to bring the healing there so John Cook and Matt Taibbi can return. I have great interpersonal skills.”

On outlets that continue to call unknown drone victims ‘militants’ (The Intercept)

“Like the US drone program itself, this deceitful media practice continues unabated”

UNITY’s convention is no more (All Digitocracy)

“The organization’s board of directors decided that UNITY will no longer host the quadrennial conferences for which it had become known”

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

Study Guides

Questions and exercises for journalism students.