Wayne State University’s Word Warriors have released their top ten words to revive in 2011 . Starting in 2009, the Wayne State Word Warriors have highlighted obscure English words to bring back into common usage. Citing the vast vocabulary available in English – the biggest in the world, in fact — the Word Warriors contend that the depth and elasticity of the language is often disregarded for the quick, easy and accessible word. “Too often we limit ourselves to words that are CONTINUE READING »
Memorial Day occurs on the last Monday during the Month of May and while it has come to signify the beginning of the summer season, it is also the solemn time when Americans remember the soldiers that died in military service. Originally named Decoration Day, a reference to a tradition of decorating the graves of the Confederate dead, Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan and observed for the first time on May 30th of that same year. The CONTINUE READING »
On October 13, 2010, President Obama signed into law the “United States Plain Writing Act of 2010.” Thirteen years after President Clinton issued his own “Plain Writing in Government” memorandum, the revised set of guidelines states that by July of this year all government agencies must simplify the often perplexing bureaucratic jargon used in documents produced for the American public. Gone are the grammatically longwinded sentences, replaced with CONTINUE READING »
What letter is used most rarely in English? Poor lonely z finishes up the alphabet at number 26. The final letter, z’s history includes a time when it was so infrequently used that it was removed altogether.
The Greek zeta is the origin of the humble z. The Phoenician glyph zayin, meaning “weapon,” had a long vertical line capped at both ends with shorter horizontal lines and looked very much like a modern capital CONTINUE READING »
A vociferous buzz is radiating throughout parts of Alabama and making the news. From the brilliant first light of day to the still and dark of night, a serenade is being sung – a mating call thirteen years in the making. Millions of cicadas have come up from their underground bedrooms after completing a very long incubation period. Unlike the annual cicada, this specific variety, labeled ‘Brood XIX,’ open their red-eyes, shed their skin, spread their wings, sing their song, eventually mate, and, like CONTINUE READING »
Who knows if REM had a specific date in mind when they sang their immortal chorus, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.” But according to Harold Camping, a California-based Christian radio broadcaster, May 21, 2011 will bring about a rapture that will inevitably lead to the end of the world five months later. Before you throw away your “to do” list and cancel that hair appointment, let’s take a look at some useful cataclysmic terminology.
Naming your newborn can be an exciting and creative experience. A person’s given name, or forename, is important because it is usually the first impression your child will make on the world. Some parents choose to honor a family member by naming their child after a father, mother, or sibling. Others look to history for that perfect given name. And some look to…Facebook? That’s right. The social networking website has inspired an Israeli couple to name their daughter after the “like” button on Facebook. Lior and Vardit Adler insist their daughter’s name is not a gimmick – they simply ‘like’ the meaning behind the name. So we got to thinking – what’s in a name? CONTINUE READING »
In James Boswell’s travelogue, Boswell In Holland 1763-64, the author writes: “The Scottish language is being lost every day, and in a short time will become quite unintelligible. To me, who have the true patriotic soul of an old Scotsman, that would seem a pity.” With those words, along with the encouragement of his good friend, Samuel Johnson, Boswell set out to collect a CONTINUE READING »
There is an increase in public discourse on transgender rights this spring. Nevada is considering a bill that would provide discrimination protection to transgender people in housing, public accommodation and job protections, similar to laws in place for other protected minorities. A bill in Maine addressing public accommodation for transgender people is also in the news. Meanwhile, hate crime charges are being considered in the beating of a transgender woman who was trying to use the bathroom at a Baltimore-area McDonald’s.
Today, we address the language and meaning of words regarding transgender issues – many of them are CONTINUE READING »
There is quite a bit of mystery surrounding the letter A. From its prestigious first place position to its interesting character origin – tracing the first letter of the English alphabet uncovers a history of honor that begins with, of all things, an ox.