Monday, May 24, 2004

NY TimesThis week in my B&C blog: "Cool Christianity" in the New York Times, the growth of gambling in England (artist's rendering of Blackpool's expansion at left), the history of semiotics, the problem with political correctness, the upcoming transit of Venus, and more ... LINK/ARCHIVE

My language column was postponed last week to make more room for ads (priorities, priorities), but here are various inflections:

- It's never too late to try to clear up the many myths surrounding ebonics, as Geoff Pullum did in this letter to columnist William Raspberry (which Pullum posted last week at Language Log), and as John Rickford does here. In this journal article on ebonics, Geoff Nunberg questions the common assertion made in the 1997 brouhaha that learning proper, standard English will help poor African-American students succeed in society. As he paraphrased in an NPR commentary:

The fact is that the language that kids in the Oakland schools need to learn in order to enter the cultural and economic mainstream ... [is] the semigrammatical, jargon-strewn talk that you hear in corporate conference rooms or on the floor of Congress. ... At a rough estimate, the ability to write correct and lucid English has a market value in modern America about one-third as great as the ability to install Windows on a PC.

- On wine writing, by David Shaw in the LA Times: "Unfortunately, too many wine writers often seem to think they're writing about other human beings, not about a beverage," he wrote, citing a critic who judged that one wine "tried to summon a bit more seriousness but its supple femininity gave way quickly to shimmering fruitiness." More on wine writing here and here from LL.

- Notes the CS Monitor's language column: "Linking verbs used to be known as 'copulative verbs' before the snicker factor got to be too much."

- This sentence is a mess even without the typo. "Somewhat unexpectedly ... partly because"--this is what happens when journalists forget to write like real people (more earlier).

Somewhat unexpectedly for a man who was got his job partly because he was considered less polarizing than Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader, Mr. Hastert is emerging in this election season as a highly partisan figure. x

- But the Times redeems itself with a clever headline over this graphic that lists disrupted Mets no-hitters: "One-hit Wonders."

- Cartoonist John McPherson (in the usually-lame strip Close to Home) imagines how people get fired at Webster's: "You are the most ignominious, pugnacious, mendacious, recalcitrant dullard I have ever had the fatuity to hire."

- My Tribune language columns are exiled after 7 days to pay-per-view archives, but I listed at left some columns that were reprinted by bloggers.

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