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Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

Does Betteridge’s Law of Headlines Make Us Look Fat? No. But it is the eponymous law that states, “If it ends in a question, the answer is ‘no.'” This is part of a complete episode.

2013 Words of the Year

This list serves as a shorthand of our preoccupations for the year 2013. It’s a cross-section of words across all public arenas, flavored with the zeitgeist, powered by emotions and spread through innate usefulness. Pop culture, science...

Insure vs. Ensure

Insure and ensure mean two different things now, but back when the U.S. Constitution was penned, they were interchangeable. Hence the line in the preamble to insure domestic tranquility. This is part of a complete episode.

Nothing to Sneeze At

Forensic linguists use what they know about speech and writing to testify in courtrooms. And get out your hankies! Martha and Grant are talking about the language of … sneezing. And what do you call it when you clean the house in a hurry...

Forensic Linguistics

Forensic linguistics, the subject of a recent New Yorker piece by Jack Hitt (in full here, is a useful tool in the courtroom. Linguists like Roger Shuy, who’s written a handful of books on the subject, have managed to solve criminal cases by...

Comparing and Arguing About Dictionaries

On the website Ask Metafilter, I answered a question about dictionaries that I want to elaborate on here. Metafilter user “Aswego” inquired: Is there some super-secret linguistics resource that sorts dictionaries by...

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