A reader objects to loose usage on bring and take.
A colleague's recent note led me to try to find the rules for using dashes.
This morning, the phrase "struck on himself" popped into my head. I realized that I hadn't heard it in ages. It means someone who has an inflated opinion of himself or who is in love with himself. As in, "Earl was the best looking boy in the school, but I thought he was struck on himself."
The Learner's Dictionary's entry on "strike" says the phrase is British informal. I grew up hearing it all the time, though, in Catawba County, North Carolina. Being "struck on" yourself was a bad thing to be, too, in my family.
I love North Carolina dialects. I have one myself -- western Piedmont. I ran across this nifty site today. Take the North Carolina Dialect Quiz and see if you can distinguish among North Carolina regional dialects. One speaker on the quiz sounds just like my mother, born in 1929 in Hickory.
You can also learn more about why people in parts of North Carolina speak the way they do. The quiz is part of the North Carolina Language and Life Project.
If you want to hear more examples of authentic North Carolina dialect, go to the International Dialects of English Archive. My kinfolks sound like North Carolina #17.
Strunk and White's "The Elements of Style," one of the most cited books about grammar, usage and writing, was published April 16, 1959.
Amid all the hoopla over the Tar Heels' national basketball championship, a reader calls our attention to the difference between celebrant and celebrator.
Those who report the news often apply labels to terrible or urgent events: tragedy, disaster, crisis, emergency. Sometimes, those labels don't quite fit. We risk overstating the trouble.
I've been thinking about how people learn English as a second language and studying inflection, including the way we make plurals and possessives. So here is a short quiz on possessives for native speakers as well as for those who have learned or are learning English as a second language.
Click here or on the question mark icon to begin.
A headline from today's newspaper, "U.S. drops 'enemy combatant' label; detainees remain," made me curious about the suffixes in "combatant" and "detainee." The meanings of the suffixes play essential roles in the meanings of the words created.
Some have long lamented that English has no gender-neutral pronoun to use in a construction such as this: Everyone needs his or her breakfast. In regular, everyday speech, we might say "their" instead of "his or her." But "everyone" is singular, so the pronoun following it should be singular."His or her" is rather clunky, though. Back in the olden days (my youth) we'd just use "his." But feminism helped us see the problem with that approach.
This pronoun problem is arousing interest among Twitter users, according to this CNN story. Apparently, people are calling for a new gender-neutral pronoun. But, as the story notes, linguists know that language is very resistant to change in pronouns. When you go to the story, take particular note of the quotes from linguist Steven Pinker.
By the way, CNN.com has a collection of stories about language and linguistics.