Category Archives: Language

What Are We Really Saying?

Eric Schwitzgebel wrote a recent blog post called Love Is Love, and Slogans Need a Context of Examples. The post makes the point stated in its title. Slogans, taken on their own, are mostly meaningless. If you took someone with no knowledge of the fight for marriage equality in the US, and said to them, […]

Connections

The song Levon, by Elton John (@eltonofficial) and Bernie Taupin (#bernietaupin), opens with the line: Levon wears his war wound like a crown He calls his child Jesus ‘Cause he likes the name And he sends him to the finest school in town Then, there’s a line in Elton John’s and Bernie Taupin’s song Tiny […]

Just

For a year now, people have been telling me that COVID is not just the flu. That’s how they always say it, “just the flu.” I always think to myself, “Just?” Used that way, “just” implies that the flu is no big deal. “Meh, it’s only the flu.” According to prevention magazine, millions of people […]

Trump and Truth

This sign recently appeared in one of my neighbor’s yards: I don’t know these neighbors. And, seeing as they’re Trump supporters, I have no interest in getting to know them. Normally, I wouldn’t notice a campaign sign at all. I don’t generally take political advice from cardboard signs. It’s not clever or humorous or insightful. […]

Philosophy Phridays – Tense and Aspect

Philosophy Phridays is a series where each Friday, I go to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, click on “random entry,” and then write about whatever comes up. This week’s random entry is Tense and Aspect. As someone who tutors English and frequently works with students for whom English is a second language, I find myself […]

Nieces, Nephews, Aunts, and Uncles

A little while ago, my brother pointed something out to me. He has two nieces and one nephew, but no way to refer to them as a collective. When talking about his brothers’ kids, he always has to say, “Nieces and nephew.” I had never thought of it until he mentioned it, but he’s right. […]

Penultimate

Penultimate is one of my favorite words. It has a very rare combination. It’s fun to say. It’s fun to hear. And it has a cool meaning. It puts it in the same company as archipelago and onomatopoeia (Side note: I love the fact that onomatopoeia just might be the least onomatopoeic word there is). […]

Merry Christmas

There are lots of things I like about Christmas, as anyone who reads these December posts can tell. One thing in particular is the greeting, “Merry Christmas.” It’s the only time that I can think of that we wish other people to be merry and I like merriment. We don’t usually wish people to be […]

Tis the Season for Grammar Nerds

Self-proclaimed grammar nerds are a bit odd. They seem to enjoy being persnickety about the way people use language. Good for them. It’s nice that they can enjoy themselves. Some of their favorite issues are the misuse of “there,” “their,” and “they’re” or “your” and “you’re.” Personally I’m not even sure that they qualify as […]

Words Matter

I care about language. But, when it comes to language, I am very much a descriptivist rather than a prescriptivist. Basically that means that I don’t really care about how people should use language, I care about how people  do use language. If you want to use “literally” figuratively, go for it. I’m cool with […]