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In Two Minds vs. Of Two Minds

In the US, if you’re ambivalent about something, you’re said to be of two minds. In the UK, however, they use a different preposition — they’re said to be in two minds. Also, Americans talk about brainstorms, which in the UK are...

Urban Speech in India

If you live in a city in India, you probably have at least some facility in at least two languages. As Salman Rushdie once observed: “If you listen to the urban speech patterns there you’ll find it’s quite characteristic that a...

Curse of Knowledge

It’s all about terms of endearment: If your loved one is far away for a long time, you’re probably tired of just saying “I miss you” over and over. For variety’s sake, there are some creative alternatives to that phrase...

That Song in Your Head

If someone clapped out the rhythm of a song you knew, would you recognize it? It’s pretty unlikely, given what’s called the curse of knowledge. To the person with the song in their head, it’s obvious, but you can’t expect...

Steven Pinker’s Advice for Writers

Steven Pinker’s new book, The Sense of Style, which Martha cites among her all-time favorite books about writing, has just the right message: don’t worry so much about the errors, because you’ll make them, and if writing...

Writers’ Quotes About Writing

Writers always seem to come up with brilliant quotes about writing, and why shouldn’t they? Douglas Adams has noted, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” And Gloria Steinem once quipped: “I...

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