According to the National Pie Council and those of us complicit in using tasty pastries to brighten dreary winter days, today is National Pie Day. Whether your tastes tend toward savory or sweet, fruit or custard, lattice or crumble, there's a pie out there for you. As the council says: "It's not just a dessert, it's a tradition. ... Grab a slice of life!"
A newspaper in Santa Barbara has raised the ire of many in its community by twice using illegals in a headline as shorthand for people who have entered or stayed in the United States without permission. Doing so led to demonstrations and counter demonstrations by supporters and opponents of a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally.
Five hundred and twenty-two years ago today, January 9, 1493, Christopher Columbus insulted merfolk everywhere by observing that the mermaids he saw off the coast of the Dominican Republic were "not half as beautiful as they are painted" [History.com; see also "Oh no he did not"]. If he had looked more closely, perhaps Columbus would have noticed that these mermaids were missing more than just half their beauty.
The AP Stylebook Online sent one of its semiannual emails yesterday giving subscribers a rundown of recent updates. Among the changes: You no longer should preheat your oven. Heat your oven and you’ll be fine.
Use of the pre- prefix, especially before a verb, creates some seeming redundancies that grate on many language sticklers: preregister, prearrange, pre-addressed. Is the meaning unclear if you register or arrange an event or address an envelope?
“You Heard ’Em Here First: Words of 2015”: Will you experience a textruption in 2015? Perhaps you’ll work for a platisher this year. Ben Zimmer looks at some possible new words. (The Wall Street Journal)
Although the origins of Boxing Day are unknown, it’s a nice day-after-Christmas holiday that our UK, Canadian, Australian, and other friends celebrate. Traditionally, it has included giving gifts to service workers and those in need. Today, it’s commonly observed by relaxing and eating Christmas leftovers or by taking advantage of shopping or sporting events. (Anyone want to join me in petitioning for its official holiday status here in the United States?)
What do Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Niccolo Machiavelli, and Don Quixote all have in common? Each has been described in print as possessing "an aquiline nose." Many readers might translate the word aquiline into something akin to "beak-like," but the word is more specific than that. Aquiline means "of, like, or pertaining to an eagle."
An infant on an airplane, assaulted by the dual discomforts of air pressure shifts and teething, screams its head off. The infant's mother applies a gum-numbing ointment to the child's mouth while the child's father doles out candy and apologies to the other passengers. In short, while the mother soothes the child, the father smoothes things over with their fellow travelers.
Or he smooths things over. Which is it: smoothes or smooths?