Posts Tagged: English

How To Order A Croissant

Ordering a croissant is a perilous enterprise. It forces lovers of French pastries between the Scylla of pretension and the frying pan of provincialism. Actually that’s understating the case: The perils are not two, but manifold.

If you attempt the proper French pronunciation, krwa-san, and succeed, you’ll seem snobby. If you trip over the guttural R, as so many non-native speakers do, you’ll seem pseudointellectual.

If you go for the namby-pamby middle ground, kwa-san, replacing the guttural R with a W, you’ll sound terrible… and namby-pamby.

You could avoid these dangers by pronouncing the word in a straightforward American accident: kruh-sant. But then you’ll quite possibly become the [...]


How To Swear In English

Listen up, Koreans: This is what we're really saying around you. Stuff like: Hey gramps? Your skin is sick. Just don't think we're saying you're "ill." Also, this video contains a really magical exegesis of the word "fuck." I would learn English from this man!


Tiny Pool of English Words Actually Used Results in Annoyance

There is a a poll, for some reason, that says Americans are most irritated-at least, among a small array of choices-by overuse of the word "whatever." Here are ten words way more annoying than "whatever": Diaper. Endocrine. Lasik. Muffintop. Napkin. Ruched. Bulletin. Evanescent. Deciduous. Salami.


English, Now Featuring One Million Words!

According to the Global Language Monitor, "a Web site that uses a math formula to estimate how often words are created," the English language added its millionth word at 5:22 this morning. Paul J.J. Payack, "president and chief word analyst for the Global Language Monitor," acknowledges that the millionth-word estimation is actually the basis of an imprecise analysis designed mainly to gain attention and traffic, but that it shows the depth and complexity of our constantly-evolving language. The word, by the way, is "scrotmunch," which refers to the licking of the scrotum or those who engage in such activity.


How To Talk Like Shakespeare

Daniel Fromson's Finding Shakespeare is the tale of a troubled Vietnam veteran turned amateur actor named Hamilton Meadows who became obsessed with a question: what did Shakespeare really sound like? The full story is new this week from Atavist. That's just $2.99 for a month, or $19.99 for a whole year!

A few years ago, while I was living in Washington, D.C., I became curious about a small, apple turnover-shaped landmass in the Chesapeake Bay: Tangier Island. On Halloween, 2011—after reading about the place on and off for a year or so—I came across a story in the Salisbury, Maryland, Daily Times. A “New York City [...]


The English Infiltration: "Sharing Out"

In my inbox, a search of my email for "sharing out" returns six results from one PR fellow, one result for a coworker of his and one result from Dennis Kucinich. These first seven results usually go something like, "On behalf of the [name of publication], sharing out this item by [author name] "[title of piece]." OR! In a weirder one: "I'm sharing out [name's] byline she wrote for the March issue of [client] [the "client" was in their own brackets!] [name of client magazine] (on sale is Feb 20) about how [summary of topic]." This seems sort of new in American English!


"That's So Gay" Is So Lame. I Mean, Dumb. I Mean, Retarded. Oh God!

Awl contributor Tom Scocca just blew my mind by IM'ing me this sentence, from this coming Sunday's fairly interesting New York Times Magazine cover story about gay kids: "By far the most common usage of the word 'gay' in middle schools is in the expression 'that's so gay,' a popular adolescent phrase that means that something is dumb or lame." Um. *Head explodes.* Hey. You guys? Anyone? You mean, "dumb," the word that used to mean "a person unable to speak" that later came to mean "stupid"? And "lame," the word that used to mean "a person who is crippled" and later came to mean "stupid"? So basically this [...]


A Letter to the Editor of 'The Paris Review' from the Year 2020

A blogging-place on Teh Webs called The Paris Review is now all became recent-wise more "friendly" to the way us we here uneducated personages speak and write the English, which is a language. Good for thems! The words change over times! Here are what they can expect in their e-mailboxes in the near-future-times. (Yes, we do has us a time machines!)


Elements of Stale: Having Had Been Buffaloed

A friend emailed me last week. The subject line read: "Have you seen this?" The body of the email was without text-just a pasted in Wikipedia entry for "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo."


At Least Two 'WaPo' Reporters Don't Actually Understand English

Writers at the Washington Post, including Hank Stuever, have taken South Carolina governor Mark Sanford to task for his use of language in yesterday's HIGHLY ENTERTAINING and totally wacko press conference. They wrote: "Note all the passive constructions, the avoidance of first person." Actually, this is wildly inaccurate on both counts, writes Mark Liberman: "I count 180 tensed verbs, of which I can find only four instances of grammatical passive voice." Oh it goes on! I would get all up in this but I didn't go to no college and I'm not very good on parts of speech.