Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Is That a Pork Steak in Your Pocket . . . ?

Over at the Travel Channel's online magazine, World Hum, Jenna Schnuer talks to Grant and me about some of our favorite regionalisms. (And in the comments section, you can find out what one does with a bunny hug.)

Friday, January 09, 2009

IIIIIIIt's "Bailout"!

Well, it appears that the word bailout has edged out the competition for the American Dialect Society's "Word of the Year 2008" vote. So much for my prediction yesterday on a San Diego TV show that the word would be change.

My co-host Grant Barrett is right in the thick of the ADS decision-making, and talking about the vote in various media outlets for weeks now, so keep an ear out for his comments about why they chose this word. (You can also hear Grant hold forth on NPR's "Morning Edition" this coming Monday.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Can "Man of the Year" Be Far Behind?

"Nuke the Fridge." "Fist Bump." "Bailout." Grant tells TIME magazine all about the new buzzwords for 2008.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some Things You Stumble Across Online. . .

And you just have to share. Like, for example, this letter from a woman to her husband's pillow. Genius.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Best. Pop-Up Book. Ever

For all you abecedarians, here it is.

Save the Words

A plea for one of my favorite words, "caducity."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Latin's Alive and Kicking

Heartening news for fans of Latin in today's New York Times:
The number of students in the United States taking the National Latin Exam has risen steadily to more than 134,000 students in each of the past two years, from 124,000 in 2003 and 101,000 in 1998, with large increases in remote parts of the country like New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont. The number of students taking the Advanced Placement test in Latin, meanwhile, has nearly doubled over the past 10 years, to 8,654 in 2007. While Spanish and French still dominate student schedules — and Chinese and Arabic are trendier choices — Latin has quietly flourished in many high-performing suburbs, like New Rochelle, where Latin’s virtues are sung by superintendents and principals who took it in their day. In neighboring Pelham, the 2,750-student district just hired a second full-time Latin teacher after a four-year search, learning that scarce Latin teachers have become more sought-after than ever.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Typewriters We Have Loved, Part II

A lovely obituary for a typewriter repairman in this week's issue of The Economist.

ANYONE who had dealings with manual typewriters—the past tense, sadly, is necessary—knew that they were not mere machines. Eased heavily from the box, they would sit on the desk with an air of expectancy, like a concert grand once the lid is raised. On older models the keys, metal-rimmed with white inlay, invited the user to play forceful concertos on them, while the silvery type-bars rose and fell chittering and whispering from their beds. Such sounds once filled the offices of the world, and Martin Tytell’s life.

Everything about a manual was sensual and tactile, from the careful placing of paper round the platen (which might be plump and soft or hard and dry, and was, Mr Tytell said, a typewriter’s heart) to the clicking whirr of the winding knob, the slight high conferred by a new, wet, Mylar ribbon and the feeding of it, with inkier and inkier fingers, through the twin black guides by the spool. Typewriters asked for effort and energy. They repaid it, on a good day, with the triumphant repeated ping! of the carriage return and the blithe sweep of the lever that inched the paper upwards.

I also loved this graf:

When his shop closed in 2001, after 65 years of business, it held a stock of 2m pieces of type. Tilde “n”s alone took up a whole shelf. The writer Ian Frazier, visiting once to have his Olympia cured of a flagging “e”, was taken into a dark nest of metal cabinets by torchlight. There he was proudly shown a drawer of umlauts.

We talked about typewriter nostaglia in an earlier episode of "A Way with Words."