Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University |

A 10-page paper? Are you serious?

The running you do in a 100-yard dash, an obstacle course, a 5k charity walk-a-thon, a marathon, and when you are being chased by a bear all serve different functions, and the amount of distance we need to cover is only one of the ways these modes of running differ. Likewise, the writing you do when you compose a text message to your angry significant other, a timed paragraph on a…

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The Future of Academic Style: Why Citations Still Matter in the Age of Google

Looking forward to getting my copy of the MLA Handbook 8th edition, so I can update all my teaching resources. Meanwhile, here’s some good context for why it matters that the MLA is (finally) updating its guidelines. Writers need to know how to cite an ebook, how to cite a tweet, how to cite an Instagram image, how to cite — no, seriously, my office actually received this inquiry —…

CPS Confirms Hoverboards Are Illegal To Ride On The Pavement And The Road

A trend story about millennials, by The New York Times

“When it comes down to it, life is really all about finding a hashtag for yourself and sending hilarious emoji on Venmo,” Packard said, and then, after a moment of reflection, added: “Lena Dunham.” […] “You’ve gotta ask yourself: Would you downvote the Yik Yak of your own life?” Delaney mused. His mood quickly soured. “Broad City is on,” he explained, removing a selfie stick from his man-purse. This devotion…

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How The Language Of Special Education Is Evolving

The words we use and the ways we refer to people mirror — and shape — our perceptions, our attitudes, our behavior. So where to begin? The “r” word has fallen out of use and good riddance. “Handicapped,” too, for the most part. Generally we don’t refer to people as “disabled,” as in “he’s a disabled student.” One good rule of thumb: avoid adjectives. They too easily become labels. Instead,…


What’s a Snollygoster? Even lexicographers are wrong sometimes

This is an amusing little story about how politics affects the English language. An obscure word that politicians and pundit like to use to refer to their opponents has faded in and out of use. The “wrong” move was removing the word from the dictionary recently, after which it made a comeback. (I’d still never heard of it.) As the dialectal furor faded, so too did snollygoster—so much so that…


Using “Strive” as a Noun

Obviously I know what my students mean when they use “strive” as a noun, in phrases like “the strive for success.” I have noticed this more frequently in recent years. I do not think they are mishearing “strife” (which has the same linguistic root, but has negative connotations of violence and opposition, whereas the verb “strive” connotes dedication and progress). Is this a regionalism, like “that table needs washed,” or…