Semantics

3 Jun 2011

Hyphens are your friend

Submitted by Karl Hagen
This morning's google news served up a nice crash blossom, courtesy of the Times Daily: "Racist language bill passes" When I first saw the headline, I thought it was an editorial inveighing against some bill about language that happened to be racist, rather than a bill about racist language, which, on reading the article, I find to be the intended interpretation.
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28 Jun 2008

Those pesky pronouns

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Your high school English teacher always warned you about those ambiguous pronouns, but many of the examples she gave you probably weren't really ambiguous in a practical context. Here's one that is demonstrably ambiguous, but not, I think, for the reasons usually offered in high school textbooks. Language Hat grouses about an explanation offered by Dear Abby about the distinction between "burn down" and "burn up."
DEAR ABBY: Does a house "burn up" or "burn down"?
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