Language, Free

Blogs for grammar geeks

In Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle makes lots of friends—and money for Macy’s—by sending customers elsewhere when Macy’s did not have something.

In the same spirit, this week Language Corner is sending you to lots of other language blogs and sites, in hopes you’ll like us better for it, or at least learn something.

Here are some of our favorite sites, in no particular order. In fairness, many of the people who run these sites are friends or colleagues, but we won’t let that stand in the way of good information. (And no, they’re not paying for product placement.)

Grammarphobia: Patricia T. O’Conner, the author of the wonderful Woe Is I and other language books, and Stewart Kellerman post daily tips ’n’ tricks with their signature humor and common sense.

The Slot: Though aimed at copy editors (it’s run by Bill Walsh, who is one at The Washington Post), this blog has entertaining rants and ruminations about everything from why it’s stupid to call it Black Friday to why he couldn’t care less about passive voice. (That’s not meant to be a range, Bill.)

Visual Thesaurus: Run by Ben Zimmer, a true linguist and the former On Language columnist for The New York Times Magazine, this site is actually two, two, two sites in one! Or more. One part of the site lets you create, well, a visual thesaurus, what it calls “word maps that blossom with meanings and branch to related words.” It also has lots of interesting postings about grammar, language, word usage, and popular culture, all relating to language. (Language Corner is occasionally cross-posted there as well.)

After Deadline: The New York Times issues a weekly critique on its internal blog, and parts of it are adapted for the public by Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards. In pointing out things that The Times frequently gets wrong, A.D. also explains why The Times wants to get them right. (The internal critique includes headline praise and damnation as well as what might be considered, as one former top editor called it, a little too much kimono opening for public display.)

Language Log: This blog, begun in 2003 by Mark Liberman and Geoffrey Pullum, sometimes gets into subjects that require you to know about ethnonyms or morphosyntactics, but the posts that need less translation roam the globe and include lots of entertaining discussions of how language evolves.

Grammar Monkeys: Another copy editor site, run by Lisa McLendon at the Wichita Eagle, this one gets down to earth with explanations of when to use “you” and when to use “I.” It also includes the popular Twitter feed “why we need hyphens.”

The Grammar Guide: The American Copy Editors Society has just started running a blog, building on one that had been written for seven years by Pam Nelson, another—you guessed it—newspaper copy editor. Nelson, who works for McClatchy newspapers, wants the new iteration to be a forum for discussion not just of grammar, but of language in general.

And we can’t forget Grammar Girl, Mignon Fogarty, whose podcasts and blogs have saved countless people from English-language purgatory. From ways to avoid typos to why where you live will affect what a word means, Grammar Girl’s “Quick and Dirty Tips” are forever useful.

This is just the tip of the grammar and language iceberg. We’d love to hear what your favorites are! Write us or post in the comments section.

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Merrill Perlman managed copy desks across the newsroom at The New York Times, where she worked for 25 years. Follow her on Twitter at @meperl. Tags: , , , , ,