The word culture entered the language in its most common forms less than two centuries ago, but in all its forms it is in the top 1,000 most-common words in American English. According to the Corpus of Contemporary American English, culture ranks 612, making it more frequently seen than brother, marriage, opportunity, and stuff.
It's a tough time to be a publisher. Paying the bills without subsidies doesn't seem to be something the big businesses can do. It's always sad to hear of a publisher struggling, getting eaten up by a competitor, leaving for foreign ports, or just closing shop. This week, a petition is circulating to save funding for Wilfrid Laurier University Press. A hard-nosed business person might suggest that a company that can't support itself is due for change.
If you want to make a big splash for the word lover on your gift list, you can’t go wrong by wrapping all six volumes of the Dictionary of American Regional English. It will set you back $740, or $650 if you skip the index and supplemental material that comes with Volume VI.
If that seems costive (Ozarks) or spendy (Northwest), you could go with an online subscription. Less impressive than a stack of books that won’t quite fit under the tree but perhaps more useful, the digital subscription to DARE can be had for the holidays for half price: $75.
The prolific commentator Fareed Zakaria is a careless writer. That is a safe statement. To say Zakaria is a plagiarist is a bit more problematic. His past writing is rife with unattributed borrowing, the kind that would get an undergraduate essayist in trouble but maybe not brought before an academic misconduct hearing.
At what point does lazy copy-and-paste writing and sloppy attribution warrant the label plagiarist?
The Associated Press Stylebook sent a summary of recent updates to its online subscribers this week, the first since March. The nine new or updated entries were mostly routine (jack-o’-lantern is so spelled), but there was at least one change of significance:
justify: Smith justified his actions means Smith demonstrated that his actions were right. If the actions are still controversial, say Smith sought to justify his actions.
The language wars are alive and strong, and Steven Pinker is in the middle of them this week. Pinker, a psychologist and cognitive scientist, wrote The Language Instinct, about the acquisition of language, 20 years ago. Now, he offers advice on what to do with language once you’ve acquired it in The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.
Ben Zimmer, perhaps the most prolific commentator on the state of our language, is the obvious first choice for the Linguistic Society of America’s new Linguistics Journalism Award. The honor was announced Wednesday.