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Lingua Franca

Language and writing in academe.

Posts from Lingua Franca

What Gets Covered in ‘Coverage’?

Coverage seems to invoke two complementary ideas, the dream of completeness and the desire to be kept safe. They meet, says Bill Germano, in the classroom, where there are no assurances.

The Web Page That Cannot Exist

A tiny error on a conference web page provides Geoff Pullum with a concrete example for teaching abstract concepts in philosophy.

The Dreaded Ph.D. Oral Exam

Successful students, besides absorbing the content of their field, also have to be able to discuss it intelligently. The culminating exam varies, but Roger Shuy believes students who fail it deserve a second chance.

Eat These Words

Allan Metcalf relishes a wide menu of origin stories about food and drink in the current issue of a scholarly journal on etymology that has never gone online.

Ben Yagoda Crunches the Contractions

MLA and APA style guides disagree on whether it’s OK to use, for example, “it’s.” Our blogger investigates: What do Laura Hillenbrand and Jill Lepore do?

‘That Walk Was a Bear!’ Is ‘Bear’ Slang in That Sentence?

Anne Curzan finds herself trying to define slang after one student misunderstands another’s remark on a snowy day.

A Pocket Brexicon for American Academics

Academics visiting Britain from the United States this holiday season will have trouble understanding some new words in the newspapers. Geoff Pullum has prepared a helpful Brexit glossary.

Why Do Such a Multitude Prefer ‘Multiple’ Over ‘Many’?

Rose Jacobs investigates the rise of multiple in news stories where many would suffice. Are journalists following a trend?

It’s the Job-Interview Season Again

Whether in the academy or the law, interviewers should be wary of looking too hard for the right fit.

‘Very’ Is Very Tempting. Don’t Give In.

The word can weaken the adjective it precedes, says Ben Yagoda, but sometimes, as in When We Were Very Young, you need it. And then there’s the very-user-in-chief.
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