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  • Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 4:09pm
    Dawn McIlvain Stahl
    Wordoku: Sudoku for Wordies, Summer's Bounty Edition

    Farmers markets, garden plots, window boxes -- summer produce is beginning to appear everywhere you look. If you’re among those who have put in the labor to nurse fruits and vegetables into existence or to search out the best of summer’s bounty in the markets and shops, may you be blessed with the best basketfuls of produce. And only as many of your neighbor’s cucumbers and zucchinis as you want.

    To correctly solve our bountiful Wordoku, make sure that every row, column, and 3x3 box contains the following letters exactly once [difficulty: moderate]:  


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  • Friday, July 25, 2014 - 10:19am
    Mark Allen
    With Poor Wording, a Crash Blossoms

    Headline writers love to pile up nouns to get as much information as possible into limited space. But many words in English are the same whether nouns, verbs or adjectives, often leading to ambiguous results.

    That’s where the copyeditor comes in—when there is a copyeditor handy to come in.

    On Wednesday, the Associated Press tweeted:

    BREAKING: Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven.

    There was no crash landing of a plane carrying victims. The victims of a crash landed in the Netherlands.

    There is nothing grammatically wrong...

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  • Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 2:39pm
    Dawn McIlvain Stahl
    'Literally' webcomic from http://xkcd.com/725; "Word Crimes" video detail

    By education and career choice, I am a moderate prescriptivist (with descriptivist sympathies).* In my personal communication, I carefully “couldn’t care less” and I enjoy the game of keeping fewer and less in distinct count and non-count realms. In my professional life, I edit or query any nonstandard usage. It’s part of what my clients pay me to do. So I was surprised to realize that I had, for the first time, used literally to describe something that wasn’t literal -- and that I was okay with it.

    Full Confession

    I used the non-literal meaning of literally in a comment to a writer this week while I was editing. And I don't regret it. Please finish reading before you come to revoke my professional-editor...

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  • Thursday, July 24, 2014 - 12:28pm
    Mark Allen
    Weird Al Has More to Say About Language

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Prescriptivist vs. Descriptivist
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