Is Two Better Than One?

My Facebook feed has filled with people posting about this Washington Post article about a study that purportedly shows that “science” has shown that typing two spaces after a period is superior to typing just one. The number of spaces that should follow a period is one of those eternal topics of debate, with peevers and pedants on both sides assuredly proclaiming that their position is the correct one, but almost never with any evidence to show that they are, in fact, correct. So the idea that a study has definitively settled the question would be a welcome relief. The trouble is, the study in question does no such thing.

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Swearing In Tarantino Movies

Who says linguistics is dull?

Stephen Black is a British data scientist who has done yeoman’s work creating a tool for analyzing profanity in Tarantino’s movies.

He’s also done an online concordance and tools for the King James Bible.

[Discuss this post]

The Oxford Comma and the Law

The legal dispute between the Oakhurst Dairy and its drivers has been settled. As widely reported in the media, the dispute hinged on the use, or omission, of the Oxford comma. But the media, or at least the New York Times, is still getting it wrong. The ambiguity in the law was never just about the Oxford comma. The court ruled that the law as a whole was badly worded and ambiguous and made its ruling based on the legislative intent of the law, not the punctuation.

The latest New York Times article says that because of the settlement we’ll never get a legal ruling on the Oxford comma, but again, that’s wrong. The court had resolved the ambiguity in the law in favor of the drivers, and the ongoing proceedings were to determine the facts of the case and what damages, if any, were to be awarded the drivers. The settlement puts an end to that process.

The story, in all its grammatical detail, as I wrote it on 17 March 2017:

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ADS Word of the Year: fake news

On 5 January, the American Dialect Society chose fake news as its 2017 Word of the Year. The ADS defined fake news as either “disinformation or falsehoods presented as real news” or “actual news that is claimed to be untrue.” The phrase was considered during the organization’s deliberations for the 2016 Word of the Year (WOTY), but in that year it was being used only in the first of these two senses. Donald Trump began using it in the second sense in 2017, and it is this sense that catapulted it into the top spot. As far as I know, this is the first time a word has been considered in multiple years. (The ADS uses an expansive definition of word, that of “vocabulary item,” which includes phrases, hashtags, and the like.)

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2017 Words of the Year (WOTY)

As I did last year, and on occasion before that, I’ve come up with a list of words of the year. I do things a bit differently than other such lists in that I select twelve terms, one for each month. Since similar lists often exhibit a bias toward words that were in vogue at the end of the year when the list was compiled, my hope is that a monthly list will highlight words that were significant earlier in the year. The list is skewed by an American perspective, but since I’m American (and a Texan to boot), them’s the breaks.

I’m interpreting word loosely, including phrases, abbreviations, hashtags, and the like. The selected words are not necessarily new, but they are (mostly) associated with their respective month, either coming to widespread attention during it or associated with some event that happened then.

So, here are the 2017 Wordorigins.org Words of the Year:

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