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.
28 Jun 2008

Those pesky pronouns

Submitted by Karl Hagen
Topic: 
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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