Language usage

Death of the word, Hero

Posted by on Oct 8, 2013 in Language usage | Comments Off on Death of the word, Hero

As a people, Americans are big-hearted and have boundless enthusiasm. But occasionally in our enthusiasm, we mangle logic and misuse words. When this happens, powerful words are weakened to the point of becoming meaningless.

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Mending Fences

Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in Language usage | Comments Off on Mending Fences

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” Robert Frost wrote in one of the most misunderstood poems in the English language. “Misunderstood” because all that people remember is the response of the thoughtless neighbor who “will not go behind his father’s saying…” which is “Good fences make good neighbors.”

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What has happened to “fewer”?

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Language usage | Comments Off on What has happened to “fewer”?

Say this sentence: there is fewer water in a lake than an ocean. Does this sound strange to you? If you are a native English speaker, it should.

Now try this: less people can apply for jobs. This should also sound strange, but for a growing number of people, it does not. I hear this coming both from highly educated people and uneducated people who do not know the difference between “less” and “fewer.”

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Did He Shake or Nod His Head?

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in Language usage | Comments Off on Did He Shake or Nod His Head?

In Western nations, shaking one’s head means “no.” As in, “When the detective asked if he did it, he couldn’t speak because his jaw was broken. So he shook his head, no.”

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