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One Writer's Ravings:       A Logophile's Blog for Language Lovers      

LIT CRIT 101: The Art of the Putdown

Writers are generally not known for their social grace. In fact, many are flat-out antisocial, sometimes to the point of misanthropy. Envy, egotism, selfishness, self-indulgence, and downright nastiness are just a few of the pleasant traits often associated with writers—along with the ability to be mean-spirited in epigrammatic prose laced with trenchant wit. Read More 
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Take Me Out to the Name Game: A Postscript

The second half of the major-league baseball season is now in full swing, so to speak, and I've been keeping up not only with the stats but also with the oddball first names of Hispanic ballplayers. Every week, it seems, I run across one or two more rare specimens in the sports pages. Read More 
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Inkhorn's Erotonomicon

Paul Convery, a hardworking fellow lexicomane from Glasgow, Scotland, contacted me recently to ejaculate with pride over his latest labor of illicit love, Inkhorn's Erotonomicon: An Advanced Sexual Vocabulary for Verbivores and Vulgarians. It's the most verbally engorged example of lubricious lexicography since J. E. Schmidt's Lecher's Lexicon, guaranteed to give wordlovers of all persuasions a safe-lex frisson. Here is what Mr. Convery has to say about it in his introduction: Read More 
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Take Me Out to the Name Game

I am a longtime fan of baseball. If you are too, then you know that part of the fun of being a fan is following the “stats” of the players and seeing how many categories and subcategories can be created from baseball-related information. From RBI (runs batted in) to ERA (earned-run average), baseball wonks have a way of keeping track of everything pertaining to the game. But one thing I’ve been following lately seems to have been overlooked by lovers of all-things-baseball: the extremely weird first names of Hispanic ballplayers. Read More 
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Imagine a World Without Books

This is the second year I've been invited to deliver the opening remarks for The Big Read, the annual celebration of books and reading sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and engineered locally by the hardworking folks at WriteOutLoud, Veronica Murphy and Walter Ritter. Following is my kickoff speech for their series of events inspired by Ray Bradbury's classic science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451.  Read More 
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Language Maven Under Fire

Well, it's been a while. But the distractions of the holiday season are past and a new year is here, so I'm resolving to be at least a somewhat more frequent blogger.

As part of my resolutions for 2013, I recently cleaned up my woefully untidy home office, which had begun to resemble the Augean stables (minus the manure). Among the papers I sorted was an email exchange between me and an aspiring linguist named Jesse, who took me to task for my prescriptive views on language. Here is what he had to say: Read More 
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The Accidental Debaters

Most people watched the Obama-Romney debate last Wednesday night to hear what the candidates had to say about domestic issues and the economy. The pundits watched it like judges at a boxing match, keeping track of who landed more verbal punches. I watched it for another reason: to see who would have more accidents of style. Read More 
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Duhmockrasy in Akshun

In this presidential election season, political scientists and pundits are fond of distinguishing between the so-called high-information voters, the small percentage of the electorate who keep up with the news, are informed about the issues, and can speak intelligently about what's at stake, and the so-called low-information voters, the vast majority of the electorate who know little about the issues, make gut decisions based on whim or prejudice, and can be swayed by rhetoric calculated to inflame their emotions. Read More 
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Are You Ser? That’s Ridic!

If you are someone who has people of a certain age — under 21 or so — hanging around your house or in your life for whatever reason, you may have noticed something unusual about their speech habits. Read More 
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The Gory, Glorious Words of Edgar Allan Poe

I’ve always been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, that master of mystery and the macabre, so when WriteOutLoud asked me to participate in this year’s Big Read, how could I say “nevermore”? Read More 
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