Male teacher assisting student at desk in classroom

How Not to Teach Grammar

When people with opinions and a platform rant about bad grammar, they're not helping, write two English professors.
An illustration by James Gillray, 1807

Vulgarity: An Alternative Language of the People

Was Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue the font of all popular culture studies?
Robert Redford, The Great Gatsby (1974)

When Very Bad Words Are the Sh*t (Linguistically Speaking)

The fact that people can use “literally” about things that can’t possibly be factual may literally make your blood boil.
Hamlet. Poster for W. S. Hardy Company, 1894

When Did the Verb “To Be” Enter the English Language?

A Curious Reader asks: To be or naught to be?
Woman shakes head in blurred motion against business buzzwords

The Tangled Language of Jargon

What our emotional reaction to jargon reveals about the evolution of the English language, and how the use of specialized terms can manipulate meaning.
Appalachian Mountains dialect

The Legendary Language of the Appalachian “Holler”

Is the unique Appalachian dialect the preserved language of Elizabethan England? Left over from Scots-Irish immigrants? Or something else altogether?
compliments

The Uncertain Art of the American Compliment

The way Americans compliment is maximalist and enthusiastic, but it may not always be sincere. Our resident linguist unpacks the language of politeness.
Australian kids

Small Poppy Syndrome: Why are Australians so Obsessed With Nicknaming Things?

What's behind the Australian habit of nicknaming and abbreviating everything? Nicknames may just reveal how Australians see themselves and relate to each other.
Declaration drafting

When Did Colonial America Gain Linguistic Independence?

By the time the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, did colonial Americans still sound like their British counterparts?
Oxford spires

Old English Has a Serious Image Problem

Although studying the language known as “Anglo-Saxon” helped women advance in the academy, the subject is fraught with racist associations.