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February 15, 2012
It was with a profound sense of personal validation that I opened Volume V of the Dictionary of American Regional English  to discover an entry for the term my family back in Kentucky used for the chamber pot: thunder mug .  There are also entries for thunder jar  and thunder jug,  little maps showing regional distribution. And I was also happy to see that what we called a sweat bee  is also known as the hayfield wasp , the ice-cream bee , and other terms.  For scholars of American English, this volume and the series it completes are a hoard of riches, and also a work of heroic proportions for more than four decades.
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NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | June 13, 2014
A recent article at Slate  by Gretchen McCulloch, "Why Do You Think You're Right About Language? You're Not,"  prompts some fruitful thinking about idiolects.  An idiolect is " not just vocabulary; it's everything from how we pronounce certain words to how we put them together to what we imagine they mean. " It's the whole set of associations from regional origins, family habits of language, education, reading, and jobs.  And English, the macro language, is the sum total of all our respective idiolects; it's crowdsourced.
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NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | January 20, 2014
Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:  TOUT No, not the French tout  ("all," pronounced TOO) but the English tout  (pronounced TOWT), which in American English seems to appear solely in journalism. I have never heard anyone use it in conversation.  Like many words, tout  has a shady past, traced by the OED . It was a relatively innocuous verb as the Old English tutian  and the Middle English  tute , toten , "to peep" or "to peer.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | March 23, 2014
Let me share with you a handy timesaver: Whenever you see someone complain about the "dumbing-down of English," stop reading. Move along. Nothing to see there.  What "the dumbing-down of the language" invariably means is that someone's pet crotchet has been violated or exposed as a fraud, and there is wailing as if Constantinople has fallen to the Turks all over again. A lot of that clamor since Thursday, when the editors of the Associated Press Stylebook  announced that they have dropped the over/more than  distinction.* The major dumbing-down of the language had pretty much been completed by 1400, as you can see in the work of that smirking rhymster Chaucer.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | July 14, 2012
You know they're out there, but you seldom come across them. The ones torturing scientific data to prove that the earth is only about six thousand years old. The ones laboring to eliminate critical thinking from the public school curriculum. The ones who have documentary proof that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Here in Wordville, we understand that the peeververein is numerous, but the fauna we come across tend to be minor cranks holding on to some half-remembered or half-understood schoolroom precepts.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | June 13, 2014
A recent article at Slate  by Gretchen McCulloch, "Why Do You Think You're Right About Language? You're Not,"  prompts some fruitful thinking about idiolects.  An idiolect is " not just vocabulary; it's everything from how we pronounce certain words to how we put them together to what we imagine they mean. " It's the whole set of associations from regional origins, family habits of language, education, reading, and jobs.  And English, the macro language, is the sum total of all our respective idiolects; it's crowdsourced.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | March 23, 2014
Let me share with you a handy timesaver: Whenever you see someone complain about the "dumbing-down of English," stop reading. Move along. Nothing to see there.  What "the dumbing-down of the language" invariably means is that someone's pet crotchet has been violated or exposed as a fraud, and there is wailing as if Constantinople has fallen to the Turks all over again. A lot of that clamor since Thursday, when the editors of the Associated Press Stylebook  announced that they have dropped the over/more than  distinction.* The major dumbing-down of the language had pretty much been completed by 1400, as you can see in the work of that smirking rhymster Chaucer.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | October 22, 2012
Fifty years ago, people in the United States had very real fears of the possibility of nuclear annihilation in an exchange of nuclear missiles with the Soviet Union. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 brought that fear very close. But the year before, Americans had endured a potentially graver threat, not to their physical security, but to their culture. That threat, to the demise of American culture and perhaps to language itself, came from a book. And the book was a dictionary. David Skinner, writing in The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published  (Harper, 349 pages, $26.99)
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | January 27, 2013
Last year at the American Copy Editors Society's conference in New Orleans, David Minthorn and Darrell Christian of the Associated Press Stylebook announced some revisions of the stylebook, among them a relaxation of the prohibition on hopefully as a sentence adverb. This was greeted with excitement.* ACES is meeting in St. Louis in April, and there is still time to make good on some necessary changes to stun and excite this year's audience I [cough] have a couple of suggestions.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | January 20, 2014
Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word:  TOUT No, not the French tout  ("all," pronounced TOO) but the English tout  (pronounced TOWT), which in American English seems to appear solely in journalism. I have never heard anyone use it in conversation.  Like many words, tout  has a shady past, traced by the OED . It was a relatively innocuous verb as the Old English tutian  and the Middle English  tute , toten , "to peep" or "to peer.
NEWS
By John McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | October 9, 2013
A reader of The Baltimore Sun  helpfully offers to point out a lapse in syntax:  Your statement “…only bring in files..” should read “…bring in only files..” should it not?   Rarely should the modifier “only” be placed before the verb.   Consider the following classic sentence: I hit him in the eye yesterday.   Placing the modifier “only”  in any of eight different parts of the sentence results in eight different meanings!
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | May 11, 2013
It's not correct. Well, mebbe. But if you are thinking about English as a correct thing that is separate from the people who speak and write it, you are misguided. Classical Latin is the kind of language you're thinking about. It is always correct, because it is dead and cannot change. The people who speak it are long dead, and it has morphed into Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian. But English is a living language, and whatever its speakers and writers collectively make it over time is what is correct.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | January 27, 2013
Last year at the American Copy Editors Society's conference in New Orleans, David Minthorn and Darrell Christian of the Associated Press Stylebook announced some revisions of the stylebook, among them a relaxation of the prohibition on hopefully as a sentence adverb. This was greeted with excitement.* ACES is meeting in St. Louis in April, and there is still time to make good on some necessary changes to stun and excite this year's audience I [cough] have a couple of suggestions.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | October 22, 2012
Fifty years ago, people in the United States had very real fears of the possibility of nuclear annihilation in an exchange of nuclear missiles with the Soviet Union. The Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 brought that fear very close. But the year before, Americans had endured a potentially graver threat, not to their physical security, but to their culture. That threat, to the demise of American culture and perhaps to language itself, came from a book. And the book was a dictionary. David Skinner, writing in The Story of Ain't: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published  (Harper, 349 pages, $26.99)
NEWS
By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun | September 27, 2012
The Carroll County commissioners introduced a proposal Thursday to make English the county's official language and will schedule an evening public hearing to give all residents the opportunity to speak. "We need good public input on this issue," Commissioner Doug Howard said at the board's weekly session. "Everyone should be heard. " Howard said he wants interpreters available at the hearing for those who need them. The bill, as written, would authorize the five-member, all-Republican board to "take all steps necessary to ensure that the role of English as the common language of Carroll is preserved and enhanced.
NEWS
By John E. McIntyre and The Baltimore Sun | August 16, 2012
An article in The Wall Street Journal  goes on about "bad grammar" in the workplace and quotes someone raving about the Oxford comma and Bryan Garner's dislike of "I could care less. " William B. Lawrence, dean and professor of American church history at SMU's Perkins School of Theology, takes up the cudgel  and execrates data  and media  used as singulars. Tom Chivers of The Telegraph   has some fun with a C of E vicar  who thinks that ordinary literary competence has rung down the curtain and joined the choir invisible.* Upon examination, these complaints turn out to be the customary farrago of minor errors, superstitions, and private prejudices.
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