Post Tagged with: "language"

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Columnists

Word Nerd: In context, slang ain’t so bad

Harris Academy, a girls’ high school in South London, wasn’t impressed by the manner its students were rendering the language of Shakespeare. To wit, last October it banned the use of slang by students throughout most of the institution. School principal Chris Everitt introduced this list of eight forbidden words […]

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Columnists

Word Nerd: It takes a lot of gall to accuse someone of chutzpah

“I don’t know what Arkansan is for chutzpah, but this is a gigantic case of it.” White House Press Secretary Tony Snow July 5, 2007, in reference to Bill Clinton’s criticism of George Bush for pardoning Scooter Lobby, given that Clinton spent his final hours as president issuing 140 pardons […]

Word Nerd: Homer, Queen and talking about death
Columnists

Word Nerd: Homer, Queen and talking about death

“To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose both looks like carelessness.” ~ Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest I recalled this droll quip that highlights the inexact language associated with death after listening to a CBC podcast titled “A Word About the […]

Scholar Chantal Ringuet has immersed herself in Yiddish Montreal. (Photo by Irwin Block)
Features

Montreal’s rich Yiddish heritage has an unlikely champion

Yiddish, and the rich literary output of the last century in Montreal when the language thrived here, has a new and unlikely champion. Chantal Ringuet, raised in Quebec City’s Charlesbourg suburb, never heard a word of Yiddish in that almost exclusively French environment. At the Ursuline school and Collège St-Charles-Garnier, […]

First crossword
Columnists

Word Nerd: The crossword crossroads

We have just passed the centenary of the creation of the crossword puzzle. December 21, 1913, the New York World featured a new type of word puzzle constructed by journalist Arthur Wynne. Wynne’s puzzle differed from today’s crosswords in that it was diamond-shaped and contained no internal black squares. Wynne […]

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Columnists

Word Nerd: Original blackmailers being blackmailed?

“Scottish independence; Navy frigate contract will be held after U.K. split vote,” read an August 2012 headline in The Scotsman. This story related how lucrative contracts to build the next generation of Royal Navy frigates would only be announced after the Scottish referendum on independence scheduled for autumn 2014. Not […]

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Columnists

Word Nerd: What we lose when we lose a language

The adjective “endangered” is usually twinned with the noun “species” as the onslaught of civilization has brought about a diminution in the planet’s biodiversity. But not only are many species on the verge of extinction—many languages are teetering toward oblivion. Of approximately 7,000 languages, it is estimated that anywhere from […]

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Columnists

Word Nerd: The pure gold of synonym chains

Although in the Middle Ages it is unlikely that gold fetched more than $1,500 an ounce, we still should pity the Middle Ages alchemists who futilely endeavoured to turn lead into gold. For all they had to do to perform such a metamorphosis was to create a simple series of […]

Editorial: Bill 101 has been an effective instrument
Editorials

Editorial: Bill 101 has been an effective instrument

When the Office Québécoise de la langue française was proposed 35 years ago, it was the object of both delight and scorn. For the PQ government of René Lévesque, it was necessary to stop the erosion of French in Quebec. For many anglos, it was a direct assault on the […]

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Columnists

Word Nerd: Pronoun envy and the singularization of they

Although the English language offers its speaker a large vocabulary, it is missing some useful words, particularly in the realm of referencing other people. For example, many are not comfortable with referencing their inlaws as Mom and Dad, yet are not comfortable with calling them by their first names. Some […]