Language School Blogger Fired for Writing About Homophones

Jay Hathaway · 07/31/14 09:53AM

A social media specialist for a Utah language school that teaches English to non-native speakers says he was fired for writing a blog post about homophones—words that sound the same, but carry different meanings—because his boss was afraid readers would think it was about "gay sex."

Word Terrorism: Wow, It's a Platisher

Ken Layne · 02/07/14 12:35PM

Language is our primary weapon in the ceaseless conflict that is modern life. Today we examine two words that are perfectly terrible reflections of our time: wow and platisher.

Poetry-vs.-Prose Argument Leads to Stabbing Death in Russia

Adam Weinstein · 01/29/14 09:57AM

At risk of being somewhat reductionist, here is a bit of advice: Russians love poetry. Fuck with that at your own risk. If, for example, you tell a learned Russian that "the only real literature is prose," don't be surprised when he shivs you in the face.

Horny English Profs Seek Dirty Conference Fantasy Sex on Craigslist

Adam Weinstein · 01/10/14 03:59PM

Are you an aspiring PhD in English seeking a coveted tenure-track job? Chances are you'll be in Chicago this weekend for the annual Modern Language Association convention, and you'll be stressed. Why not "indulge in a little stress-relief fantasy role-play" with a successful libidinous leader in your field?

The Year's Very Worst Words Are So "Problematic"

Ken Layne · 12/31/13 01:30PM

Language is wonderful and language is alive, but language is also a form of psychological assault—especially when everybody suddenly starts using awful new terms and phrases just because everyone else is doing it, on Twitter. We are not so naive as to think we can "ban" this or that word, because "ban" is one of the words we would ban, if words could be banned. They cannot. Thanks to 2013, we're stuck with this bunch of linguistic garbage.

British People Wearing Bonkers Headgear: An Explanation of Ladies Day

Maggie Lange · 06/20/13 03:12PM

Today marked an annual ceremony called Ladies Day, when Royalty and their hangers-on gather to ostensibly attend a horse race in the small town of Ascot in England. The exclusive Royal Enclosure also requires attendees to adhere to particular fashion requirements, which prompt the question: Dear England, what the fuck is on your head?

Confessions of a Part-Time Sexy Dyke and Full-Time Wandering Immigrant

Sharon Onga · 09/08/12 12:00PM

Sometime in the middle of this summer, I came up with the title "Confessions of a Part-Time Sexy Dyke" for my web series. I imagined the series remixing the traditional American queer coming-of-age narrative with my experience as a 21-year-old African immigrant. I came up with a theme song and even filmed an intro to the first episode. Then, I got stuck. I realized I couldn't go forward with the production before I really explored my relationship with the English language and my pervasive desire to be consumed by American audiences since I arrived in the states 11 years ago.

These Words Are Now Banned from the English Language

Brian Moylan · 12/30/11 12:30PM

Every year Lake Superior State University bans a bunch of words and phrases from the English language for good. They just released their list today and, I must say, it is amazing. Oh wait, we can't say "amazing" anymore.

Why Flight Attendants Talk Like Space Aliens

Ryan Tate · 11/23/11 03:15PM

Flight attendants are always, like, "I'm going to go ahead and check your bag" or "I'm going to need you to put up your tray table" or "We do have FAA rules on alcohol consumption to enforce, Mr. Tate." But why do they talk like that? Well, because it pays. Duh.

What Should America Steal From British English?

Ryan Tate · 11/11/11 06:22PM

The Economist ran a fascinating (and popular) poll of British readers, asking which "Americanisms" they use. Many, it turns out, have taken to saying "apartment" instead of "flat" and "sidewalk" instead of "pavement." So let's flip it around: Which dreadful Americanisms would you trade for something from the mother country?

Foreigners Are Making American Money Without Speaking American!

Hamilton Nolan · 11/09/11 11:17AM

Just when you think that this is America and yew better speak American if you wanna live here because my daddy worked hard to support our family and I don't pay taxes to support a buncha Mescans sneaking over the border to steal my hard-earned dollars and date my daughter, you read something like this: foreigners are making good solid American dollars—millions of 'em!—without even talkin' English like a real human. Is this that "socialism" they're always talking about?

Gretchen Carlson Demands You Speak English Right Now

Richard Lawson · 10/26/11 02:11PM

This morning on bad idea ball pit Fox & Friends, the melting Crisco sculpture known as Gretchen Carlson got outraged over a new program that requires "translation assistance" for the non-English speaking parents of Cleveland public school students. Boy was she mad!

Sexting and Retweet Added to the Dictionary

Adrian Chen · 08/18/11 12:47PM

Hey, did you hear that a bunch of new words were added to the dictionary? Some geeky words like, "noob," "woot!" "sexting," and "retweet." Oh, woe is us. The English language is doomed.

Dirty Swedes Welcome Pedophiles

Hamilton Nolan · 03/17/09 09:41AM

A tipster sends us this photo of an actual advertisement in Sweden, which, she explains, is a result of the stubborn Swedes' tendency to believe their fancy schools actually teach them proper English. Psht: