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The secret history of “Y’all”: The murky origins of a legendary Southern slang word

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is usually academics’ first go-to for all things linguistic, and it cites the first occurrence of “you all” in print in 1824, from Arthur Singleton’s Letters from the South and West:“Children learn from the slaves some odd phrases;..as..will you all do this?”This example is important for understanding not only the term’s origins but also the difficulties surrounding it.First, does this count as “y’all”? It doesn’t…

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How Technology Has Changed The Way We Write

Social media services have put writing tools into the hands of people who probably don’t think of themselves as writers, but there they are, captioning photos and picking hashtags and maybe even pausing just a few seconds to edit before they hit “post.” This radio interview offers a good, informal overview of why people who study writing and technology don’t get too worked up over what Twitter is doing to…