Monthly Archives: December 2013


Google Reads Your Emails?

Geoff'sGooglePostMicrosoft’s astonishingly scurrilous campaign to damage confidence in Gmail is still active after nearly 10 years. Large ads in magazines repeat content from the Google-baiting website, which is dedicated solely to promoting fear of privacy invasions:

Think Google respects your privacy? Think again. Google goes through every Gmail that’s sent or received, looking for keywords so they can target Gmail users with paid ads. And there’s no way to opt out of this invasion of your pr…


The Freshperson Problem

Earlier this week, I had my copy-editor hat on and was working my way through a newsletter for a graduate program at the university. I was fixing typos, inserting and deleting commas (often for the sake of consistency), changing words to avoid repetition, and the like. Then at one point, I watched myself prescriptively cross out the phrase “freshman composition” and reword it as “first-year composition.”

I have long been a supporter of nonsexist language reform, from using singular generic they


Reversing the Selfie

Today I can offer a twofer—my first sighting of a new word, and the opportunity to do good deeds that arises from it.

The new word is narcissism undone, “un” done if you will. Take the “selfie,” the photo you make of yourself and blatantly upload to Twitter or Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram or whatever. It’s the epitome of cute selfishness that supposedly characterizes the millennial generation. But then put “un” in front of it, and behold, you have the “unselfie,” or, with …


‘No Hangeo’

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Alves

I’ve come across the expression on street corners, near pizzerias, outside grocery stores, always as a prohibition. The location is invariably in Latino neighborhoods. Needless to say, the expression isn’t registered in either the OED or in the DLE (Diccionario de la Lengua Española de la Real Academia), which doesn’t surprise me. Lexicons have been slow in incorporating Spanglishisms, even one as versatile as this one.



Say, ‘What’?

iStock_000010401735XSmallPunctuating dialogue, for reasons I fail to understand completely, is one of the hardest things for my fiction-writing students to master. Autocorrect inserts a capital after any form of so-called terminal punctuation, so “Are you going out?” he asked becomes “Are you going out?” He asked. Certain that the verb accompanying the speaker’s name is the dialogue tag, many students write, She laughed, “That’s a funny joke.” Master classes on the rules, the craft, and the art of punctuating dialogue m…