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Why Do So Many People on YouTube Sound the Same?

So it turns out the “YouTube voice” is just a variety of ways of emphasizing words, none of which are actually exclusive to YouTube—people employ these devices in speech all the time. But they generally do it to grab the listener’s attention, and when you’re just talking to a camera without much action, it takes a little more to get, and keep, that attention…. YouTubers’ monologues often speed up and…

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The Post drops the ‘mike’ — and the hyphen in ‘e-mail’

When I announced these style changes, another Twitter user wrote, “wait, it’s 2015 and there are still people who write e-mail?” Not everyone is on Twitter, of course. For every online Post reader snickering at mike, there might be a longtime print subscriber baffled by mic. Because it would be impractical to edit each article separately for online and print audiences, we err on the conservative side. And, at the risk…

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Why Is Othello Black?

To us today, the word “black” carries with it a specific cluster of associations informed by history, culture, stereotypes, and literature. Othello may have started in conversation with Shakespeare’s definition of blackness, but today, he speaks with ours. A much more interesting question, really, is: Why is Othello black? Why did Shakespeare write a domestic tragedy about jealousy, and make the husband a Moor? Is Othello’s race a canard, or…

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Editors and editorial board quit top linguistics journal to protest subscription fees

When I publish as a scholar, my goal is not to make money, but to share my intellectual creation. That’s part of my job description, so my university writes my paycheck with the expectation that I will publish. My publications will have more impact if more people read them. Hiding them behind subscription paywalls will reduce their audience. Scholars at public instutitons, whose salaries are paid by taxes, have a…

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‘NPR Voice’ Has Taken Over the Airwaves

  In literary circles, the practice of poets reciting verse in singsong registers and unnatural cadences is known, derogatorily, as “poet voice.” I propose calling this phenomenon “NPR voice” (which is distinct from the supple baritones we normally associate with radio voices). This plague of pregnant pauses and off-kilter pronunciations must have come from someplace. But … where? A primary cause of NPR voice is the sheer expansion of people broadcasting…