You Don't Say

You Don't Say John E. McIntyre writes about language, usage, journalism & arbitrarily chosen subjects.
It's the perfect fast food, and Baltimore doesn't have it

It has been thirty-one years since I left Cincinnati for Baltimore. In all three decades, my greatest regret has been the lack of Cincinnati chili, the perfect fast food. (“They put something in it to make you crave it,” my first wife said.)

The basic three-way is popular: the chili on spaghetti in an oval dish, topped with shredded cheddar cheese. Many like the four-way, to which beans are added.

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Let's not be beastly to the undergraduates

A few years ago, in “What we talk about when we talk about grammar,” I pointed out that most of the finger-pointing about trivial errors and affected distress at the supposed decay of the language usually looks like a bid to achieve superior social status.

I understand that.

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In a word: sententious

Each week The Sun’s John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:

SENTENTIOUS

When T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock sees himself as a version of Shakespeare’s Polonius, “Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse,” he illustrates what English has done to the original sense of sententious.

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Alone on the hill where "media" is only a plural

A colleague has announced that media as a plural is the hill he is willing to die on.

Though I am dubious about most sticklers who stake out the usages they will grasp tightly to the death, I sympathize; media as a plural is very much my own preference. Newspapers are a medium. Magazines are a medium. Television is a medium. Film is a medium. Collectively they are media.

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In a word: saturnine

Each week The Sun’s John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:

SATURNINE

Though discarded by modern science, pagan religion and astrology survive in the language.

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What editors are thankful for

Deadlines

Without them, nothing would ever be finished.

The DELETE key

The indispensable tool.

Garner’s Modern American Usage

Informed prescriptivism to keep the peeververein at bay.

Linguists

Liberating us from rubbish we were taught in English class.

Lexicographers

Smart people keeping us apprised of developments in language we need to know.

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