Episode 36: Shall We Banish Some Words?

This week we talk about words some of us would like to do without. Our verdict: If you don’t like them, don’t use them.

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Links:
“Some words deserve a comeback. Others need to die.”
The complete list of words to banish at Lake Superior State University
Philip Corbett’s New York Times feature “After Deadline”

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Episode 35: Political Language and Literature (Part 2)

This week we continue our conversation at the crossroads of politics and literary criticism. It turns out there is some vocabulary worth knowing in this area, including cosmopolitanism, interrogation, formalism, and several others. This all relates to the Common Errors in English Usage Web site, too, in interesting ways.

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Links:
Paul Brians’ notes on Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (PDF)
Paul Brians’ book on South Asian Literature in English
Paul Brians’ Retirement Speech (“Teaching, Politics, and Me”)

Episode 34: Political Language and Literature (Part 1)

This week we continue talking about the language of politics—this time focusing on how it is used to discuss literature.

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Links:
Paul Brians’ Retirement Speech (“Teaching, Politics, and Me”)
Misconceptions, Confusions, and Conflicts Concerning Socialism, Communism, and Capitalism
Introduction to 19th-Century Socialism
Study Guide for The Communist Manifesto
Paul Brians’ Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War in Fiction
Text of Germinal, by Emile Zola
Text of Under Western Eyes, by Joseph Conrad

 

Episode 33: The Language of the Election Season

This week we talk with Paul Brians about the language of elections, including politicians’ propensity to use “we” when they really mean “I.” Paul also explains how Bernie Sanders, a socialist, has taken advantage of the way conservatives in the U.S. have used language for the past several years. Other topics include a couple of misused terms from Common Errors in English Usage and the way the media cover political campaigns.

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Links:
UPDATE: Someone has asked Trump about Puerto Rico after all
“I Like Ike” TV ad from 1952
Paul Brians’ page on socialism, communism, and capitalism
Paul Brians’ introduction to 19th-century socialism

Episode 32: Chris Waigl of The Eggcorn Database

This week on the show Chris Waigl joins us to discuss more about eggcorns (see also episode 30) and her work putting together The Eggcorn Database, a great resource for finding examples of this type of error. Chris also tells us about her background in science and language, and we talk generally about attitudes toward making mistakes in language.

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Links:
The Eggcorn Database
Our previous discussion of eggcorns, with Geoffrey Pullum
The grammar comic strips