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Help Writing Historical Fiction Right

Judy in Fort Worth, Texas, is writing some historical fiction. What are some tips for representing the dialect and vernacular of a particular time and place with accuracy? One great resource is the Dictionary of American Regional English. Another...

Who Decides What’s Good English?

Is there an English language authority like the Real Academia Española or the Academie Française? Dictionaries often have usage panels made up of expert linguists, but English is widely agreed to be a constantly shifting language. Even in France and...

You’re the Berries

A listener has spent the last 30 years looking for the origin of the playful phrase “you’re the berries.” This affectionate expression first appears in literature in the 1908 book Sorrows of a Showgirl, then made its way into...

wasta

wasta  n.—Gloss: the Arabic word for influence, personal connections; “pull” or “juice.” Note: While not yet fully adopted as an English word, wasta is increasingly familiar to American soldiers serving in the Middle...

prank

prank  v.— «Most people born after about 1977 will know that “pranking” is when you call someone up on their mobile phone but hang up immediately afterwards. It’s entered the vernacular as a verb, for example, “I’ll prank...