January 24, 2019

Science and Shit

A recent discussion on Twitter about whether the line “I’m gonna have to science the shit out out of this” was in Andy Weir’s book The Martian or was only found in the movie reminded me of one of my favorite facts: science and shit are related. So let’s science the shit out of this […]

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Etymology 5 Replies to “Science and Shit
January 9, 2019

An Etymological Workout

If you’re like me and are still trying to get back into the swing of things after a nice holiday break, you might be having a little trouble focusing on work. You might even be suffering from a mild case of ergophobia, or the fear of work. So here’s some etymology to distract you. Work […]

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Etymology 2 Replies to “An Etymological Workout”
November 23, 2018

Black Friday Sale at the Arrant Pedantry Store

It’s Black Friday (ugh), but from now through Sunday, everything at the Arrant Pedantry Store is 15 percent off (yay!). Now’s a great chance to get a word-nerdy shirt for that special someone in your life (or for yourself). Just use the code CYBER18 at checkout. Or if you wait until Monday, you can get […]

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Uncategorized 0 Replies to “Black Friday Sale at the Arrant Pedantry Store”
October 10, 2018

100,000 Words Whose Pronunciations Have Changed

We all know that language changes over time, and one of the major components of language change is sound change. Many of the words we use today are pronounced differently than they were in Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s time. You may have seen articles like this one that list 10 or 15 words whose pronunciations have […]

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Historical linguistics, Phonology 4 Replies to “100,000 Words Whose Pronunciations Have Changed”
July 5, 2018

I Request You to Read This Post

Several weeks ago, I tweeted about a weird construction that I see frequently at work thanks to our project management system. Whenever someone assigns me to a project, I get an email like the one below: I said that the construction sounded ungrammatical to me—you can ask someone to do something or request that they do it, […]

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Grammar, Varieties of English 6 Replies to “I Request You to Read This Post”
May 9, 2018

Is Change Okay or Not?

A few weeks ago I got into a bit of an argument with my coworkers in staff meeting. One of them had asked our editorial interns to do a brief presentation on the that/which rule in our staff meeting, and they did. But one of the interns seemed a little unclear on the rule—she said […]

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Descriptivism, Prescriptivism, Usage 5 Replies to “Is Change Okay or Not?”
March 8, 2018

Skunked Terms and Scorched Earth

A recent Twitter exchange about the term beg the question got me thinking again about the notion of skunked terms. David Ehrlich said that at some point the new sense of beg the question was going to become the correct one, and I said that that point had already come and gone. If you’re not […]

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Usage 8 Replies to “Skunked Terms and Scorched Earth”
January 9, 2018

The Whole Truth

A correspondent named Jitendra Pant recently asked me to elaborate on the etymology of whole: Dear Jonathon, I am wondering why whole has a spelling beginning with ‘w’ and not just ‘hole’. Online checking suggests that ‘hole’ and ‘whole’ did have related origins, but departed around the 15th century, when ‘wh’ was introduced. https://www.etymonline.com/word/whole doesn’t […]

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Historical linguistics One Reply to “The Whole Truth”
November 28, 2017

Two Space or Not Two Space

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that you could take the second space after a period away from him when you pry it from his cold, dead fingers. I responded with this image of Ben Wyatt from Parks and Recreation. But I said I’d refrain from sharing my thoughts unless he really wanted […]

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Punctuation 15 Replies to “Two Space or Not Two Space”
November 20, 2017

Book Review: Word by Word

Disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book from the publisher, Pantheon Books. I also consider Kory Stamper a friend. A lot of work goes into making a book, from the initial writing and development to editing, copyediting, design and layout, proofreading, and printing. Orders of magnitude more work go into making […]

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Book Reviews 0 Replies to “Book Review: Word by Word
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