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language



  • Where Gender-Neutral Pronouns Come From

    The invention of pronouns to better address gender has been part of the English language for a long time, as has moral panic about the degradation of culture and speech. 


  • The Ethics of the "N-Word" in the Classroom

    by Alan Singer

    Neither censorious expungement nor free speech absolutism offer good practical guidelines for teaching historical sources that include racial slurs. A professor of history education explains his approach. 


  • The Birth, and Life, of a Word

    by Ralph Keyes

    One of the most widely-used terms in discussions of American racism has its roots in a campaign by two pro-slavery writers to troll abolitionists through a fake tract promoting "miscegenation."



  • The English history of African American English

    by Shana Poplack

    Many of the features stereotypically associated with contemporary African American Vernacular English have a robust precedent in the history of the English language.



  • Absolute English

    by Michael D Gordin

    Science once communicated in a polyglot of tongues, but now English rules alone. How did this happen – and at what cost?



  • Dusting off the language of the Cold War

    ?“The cold war dinosaurs who still tramp the corridors and editorial columns of London and Washington seem almost to pine for the virile certainties of 1945-1989,” the columnist Simon Jenkins writes.



  • Allan Metcalf: On the Origin of ‘Shyster’

    Allan Metcalf is a professor at MacMurray College in Illinois, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, and author of OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word.Out in the wilds of western Missouri, in Rolla, which is not far from the tornado-devastated town of Joplin, lives a scholar who has made etymology his life’s work. He is Gerald Leonard Cohen, professor in the department of arts, languages, and philosophy at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and grand impresario of American etymologists—as well as the world’s leading corraler of language historians, who often join him in tackling some of the most challenging puzzles of word origins.