Verbatim

Articles from Vol. 30, No. 4, Winter

Dude, Katie! Your Dress Is So Cute: Why Dude Became an Exclamation
Although the nationwide use of other California Val-speak words such as like and totally attracts more attention, the spread of dude has actually been more peculiar. Not only has it moved through the population so that it is now very common among most...
Getting Bowzered in Early America
Crooking the elbow was a serious occupation in eighteenth-century America. Visitors to the early republic often expressed astonishment at the amount of spirits that Americans knocked back during an ordinary day. People of the time believed that guzzling...
Horribile Dictu
"In my role, I drive the performance of the policing family and I need to keep the momentum going." So says the police inspector of my home town, disappointing those of us who'd hoped his role might have something to do with preventing vandalism, fining...
Lexical Property Rights: Trademarks in American Dictionaries
Commercial America buys and sells just about everything, and turns abstractions into commodities on a dime. Language, for the purposes of lexicography, deserves exemption from acquisition and leveraged buyouts, yet corporations do appropriate words...
On Chatter
Of late, it has been mercifully quiet; several times over the course of the past three years, however, it has risen to such a pitch that the entire nation stood in fear and trembling, and this was exacerbated only because our government told us we...
Phrenology and Language
In 1767, a nine-year-old boy named Franz Gall was sent by his parents to attend school in the Black Forest of Germany. His schooling required extensive rote memorization. Young Gall worked hard at his lessons, but no matter how much he studied, he...
The Caribbean Dichotomy
Linguists specializing in pronunciation, not to mention pronunciamientos (a Spanish hors d'oeuvre originated by Cervantes's wife and which was said by him "to make the palate feel as if it had been kicked by Sancho Panza's donkey"), tend to declare...
The Hyperbolic Contrast
In 1965, when I was eighteen, the prefects (i.e., student officers) at my independent school in England put on a performance of the farce Dry Rot, by John Chapman, the plot of which involved some bent bookmakers trying to rig a horse-race. Complementing...
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