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Katie and Diane: The Wrong Questions

Katie Couric’s annual salary is more than the entire annual budgets of NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered combined. Couric’s salary comes to an estimated $15 million a year; NPR spends $6 million a year on its morning show and $5 million on its afternoon one. NPR has seventeen foreign bureaus (which costs it another $9.4 million a year); CBS has twelve. Few figures, I think, better capture the…

2

The Happiness Gap (the spread of a minsinterpretation meme)

I am not too happy about the way wild conclusions drawn from this self-published research periodically pop up in the media. Kudos to Liberman, from Language Log, who tries (yet again) to explain. The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness The best way to describe this, I think, would be to say something like: In the early 70s, women self-reported their happiness at levels somewhat higher than men did. Specifically, 5.1%…

Grammar Puss

If language is as instinctive to humans as  dam-building is to beavers, if every 3-year-old is a grammatical genius, if the design of syntax is coded in our DNA and wired into our brains, why, you might wonder, is the English language in such a mess?  Why does the average American sound like a gibbering fool every time he opens his mouth or puts pen to paper?  The contradiction begins in the fact that the words “rule” and “grammar” have…