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How to Ride the Euphemistic Treadmill

Euphemisms for the Intimate Enemy

Euphemisms for the Intimate Enemy (Photo credit: Sweet One)

How do you refer to a person or people with characteristics outside the perceived norm? Why should you do so at all?

Describing a person as belonging to a certain race or ethnic group or having a physical or mental disability, or commenting on a provocative or embarrassing topic, is a challenge on more than one level. Linguist and cognitive science Steven Pinker has called the first level of challenge “the euphemistic treadmill,” a form of pejoration (a shift of meaning to a negative connotation or a less sophisticated sense) or semantic change (an alteration of meaning).

Read more here…

20 Ways To Laugh…



Laugh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Go ahead and try this (if you’re alone, that is): Explore all the varieties of laughter you can produce, and label each one. There’s an often-distinct word or phrase for each type. Here are twenty ways to laugh, and some related expressions.


1. (Be) in stitches: to laugh
2. Belly-laugh: to laugh in a deep, hearty manner, as if from the abdomen or in such a way that one’s abdomen moves from the exertion
3. Break up: to laugh as if helplessly
4. Cachinnate: to laugh loudly and/or obnoxiously
5. Cackle: to laugh harshly or sharply


Read more here…



21 Tips About Writing From Twitter


English: A Twitter tweet

English: A Twitter tweet (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


I’m a writing tip junkie. Any tweet or blog post or random comment that begins, “Here’s the best tip I’ve ever gotten about writing…” makes me click. What’s thirty seconds of time when I could pick up a gold nugget that changes my writerly life?


Mostly, 1) I already know them, 2) they’re pedestrian, or 3) they’re wrong, but occasionally I get one–or twenty-one in this case–that I think are worth passing on. See if you agree:


  1. Don’t try to be a writer


Read more here…




Followers of this blog will have noticed that there have been no original posts since the beginning of this year.

The story:

I have taken a sabbatical from writing; the quotes will continue—hard,fast and strong.

Till then!

20 Evocative French Words


English has borrowed words from other languages indiscriminately, and has done so for hundreds of years. Often, this happens even when a perfectly sound native or imported synonym already exists, but sometimes the new term gains its footing because it expresses a concept better than an existing term, or conveys a connotation or nuance no other single word or phrase does.


But speakers and writers of English don’t always use the word as it is intended, leading to semantic drift. In the interests of preserving the purity of some highly evocative terms, here are twenty such words acquired from French:


Read more here…


French language McDonald's door sign

French language McDonald’s door sign (Photo credit: mechanikat)



2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 14,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.