Friday, September 19, 2014. Last Update: Thu 3:07 PM EST

Language Corner

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A fancy word for ‘custom’

Bespoken for

An article labeled as news fawned last week over the new Jaguar XE, which was introduced in London in a... More

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How to properly use [sic]

Hint: Not often

Twitter, Facebook, email, and the like are great reporting tools, allowing reporters access to more sources, wider reporting, and more... More

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Very important alcohol vocabulary tips

Foment vs. ferment

"Both sides are just trying to ferment a war," a blog posting said of the situation in the Middle East.... More

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Hyphen use disappearing

Is the web to blame for quick changes to language?

Language evolution is happening right in plain sight. “Off-site” and “on-site” are in the process of becoming “offsite” and... More

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Fun with mnemonics

If you’ve been writing ‘pneumonic,’ you’ve got it all wrong

A friend wrote that she had a great way of remembering a complicated topic. "I created a pneumonic device," she... More

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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

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


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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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.