Lovers of language and literature, especially those with children or grandchildren still in Grades K-12, will find The Language Police by education historian Diane Ravitch riveting, revelatory, and extremely disturbing.
An article on the sports page of my morning paper quoted the owner of the winning horse praising the jockey: Victor road him really well.
A reader asks: What exactly is meant by “sleight of hand” and how do you pronounce “sleight”?
A reader comments: I have seen and heard the word homogeneous used to refer to a multiracial or multicultural society, whereas I would have used heterogeneous. Surely homogeneous describes an “unmixed” group of people or things?
Posts on the topic of pronunciation usually provoke a lot of attention, often drawing heated defenses of one pronunciation over another and suggesting that only one can ever be “correct.” In fact, “correct” pronunciation differs from century to century and from region to region.
A friend whose novel is in the works for publication has been told by her editor that “publishers hate semicolons.”
A reader browsing the DWT site reacted disdainfully to the use of who as an object in a DWT post about letter writing.
A reader alerted me to a new use of the word unctuous that has escaped me until now: When did “unctuous” start having a positive connotation? Watch any cooking show lately and it’s likely you’ll hear someone describe a dish as “unctuous,” as if that’s a good thing. Many celebrity chefs seem to now use the word to suggest a dish is rich, smooth, or maybe even creamy.”
A non-native English speaker wonders about this use of the word anniversary in a business communication.
As adjectives, little and small are often interchangeable, but sometimes one will not do in place of the other.
A reader was startled when a television announcer misused the word centurion: Perhaps one of your columns could cover the meanings of “centurion” and “centenarian.” A news anchor on KTTC-TV, Rochester, Minn., just announced “There is a new centurion in Clear Lake, Iowa.” (This “new centurion” is a woman celebrating her 100th birthday. A centenarian centurion?)
The verb “to overrun” is conjugated the same as the verb “to run”: run, ran, (have) run; overrun, overran, (have) overrun.