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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…

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Battle of Agincourt — 600 Year Anniversary of Henry V’s “St. Crispin’s Day Speech”

Sure, Marty McFly Day is interesting and all that, but Oct 25, 2015 marks the 600 year anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, the occasion for Henry V’s famous St. Crispin’s Day Speech, which, as Shakespeare rendered it around 1599, ends thus: This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it…

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Every conversation between a parent and a child, in four conversations. (Slate)

This whole item applies very well to one of my children. Me: Put your shoes on. Child: Did you know that we don’t actually vote for president, we vote for people who vote for president? Me: I don’t care, put your shoes on. Child: I am. Me: You’re not. Put your shoes on. Child: Why do we have shoes anyway? Me: Just put your shoes on. Child: That reminds me, where are my shoes? Me: What? They’re right there! Right next…

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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…