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  1. Done Deal: $5 Million Resolves the Case of the Missing Comma

    The case of Nitpickers v. Nitpickers, so coined by an article on Quartz.com, revealed the perils of missing punctuation that led to a misinterpretation of how employees are paid. The unassuming serial comma became the centre of a semantic debate driven by Oakhurst Dairy delivery-truck drivers of Maine (USA) that ended in a resolution in court […]

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  2. Wonderful Waggish and Witty Words

    Our Wonderful Words series highlights odd and marvelous terms that may not be well known or are little used. Rapscallion Rogue, villain, scalawag, knave – they’re all synonyms for rapscallion (a mischievous person; a rascal or ne’er-do-well). An archaic word, its origins led to a rich evolution of terms that started with “rascal”. Recorded as […]

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  3. The Composition Book Decomposed

    The classic composition book (left), long used by students for developing essays, taking notes and scribbling, has been transformed into the “Decomposition Book” – or at least, so it seems. Seeing one in a store requires customers to first make sense of the word in relation to the item sold: it’s hard to square a […]

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  4. The Power of One: Cut Those Superfluous Words

    One word is like one drop – its impact is greater when surrounded by less of its own kind. That’s why we’ve focused on examples of reducing several words to one – or substituting a phrase with one word – in this latest list of superfluous terms you can ban from your writing.   Reduce […]

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  5. How Inventions Live on As Action Words

    Transferring words from one word class to another – called “conversion” – is just one of 13 ways to create new terms in English, according to The Guardian (“How new words are born”, 4 February 2016). Making nouns into verbs, for example, puts spunk into the language and can even add nuances to the meaning. […]

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  6. Wonderful Words Curiously Created

    The many odd and revealing terms of English vocabulary make the language a word collector’s paradise. Our wonderful words series continues with: eggcorn. In use only since the early 2000s, “eggcorn” stems from how some people say “acorn”. Their pronunciation of the term for the smooth, oval nut of the oak tree is distorted. That mispronunciation […]

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