Demonstrators march near the White House in protest following a Kentucky grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case on September 23, 2020

The Ethical Life of Euphemisms

Euphemisms can hide facts that need to be confronted. How do they work from a linguist's point of view?
Marilyn Monroe at Hollywood agent Johnny Hyde's backyard, 1950

How Hollywood Sold Glamour

The complicated notion of glamour in classic Hollywood, suggesting that stars were aloof and unknowable, was also a means to sell products.
Steve Biko

The Death of Steve Biko, Revisited

Like the death of George Floyd, the South African activist Steve Biko’s death galvanized a global movement against racism.
People visiting the morgue in Paris to view the cadavers

The Paris Morgue Provided Ghoulish Entertainment

With its huge windows framing the corpses on display, the morgue bore an uncomfortable resemblance to a department store.
A still from "Are You Popular?"

“Are You Popular?”

Mental hygiene films of the postwar era gave advice to American teens—and parroted specific cultural values.
Taylor Swift at the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards

The Linguistic Evolution of Taylor Swift

If Taylor Swift shifts her accent in her transition from country to pop, does she lose the personal authenticity important to country music?
Annie Oakley

How Annie Oakley Defined the Cinema Cowgirl

“Little Sure Shot” was famous for her precision, athleticism, and trademark femininity.
A protest during the Australian bicentenary

On Black Power in the Pacific

How the meaning of Blackness, and the social construction of race, varies across era and region.
Tremolite asbestos from the Aure Valley, French Pyrenees

When Asbestos Was a Gift Fit for a King

File under: “don’t try this at home.”
Meme of woman laughing with the tagline, "Laughs with Sorrow in Spanish," just below her face

How to Meme What You Say

The linguistic theories behind what we're trying to say when we adapt and share internet memes.