Tag Archives: words

The Soapbox: Let’s Get Real When Discussing Complicated Sexual Experiences

The Soapbox: We Can't Limit Our Vocabulary When Discussing Complicated Sexual Experiences

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the media about sexual violence. Late last month, former CBC Broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi was fired amid allegations of sexual assault. A few weeks ago, Shia LaBeouf came forward with claims that he was raped during an art exhibition. And by now everyone’s heard of the sex abuse allegations first brought against Bill Cosby decades ago, which seem to just keep coming.

Then a little over a week ago, Rolling Stone released an editor’s note that undermined their own investigative account of a brutal gang rape that allegedly took place at a fraternity house at the University of Virginia. It was a move that The Frisky’s Beejoli Shah astutely noted as “just another example of shifting the focus away from the real issue at hand: how we talk about rape, and how hard it is for survivors to come forward.”

As a former sex worker turned sex writer I think it’s good that people are talking about sexual health. It’s unfortunate, however, that we don’t know how to talk about complicated sexual experiences without focusing on two words: consent, and rape. In certain circumstances, I wonder if these aren’t the wrong words. Certainly, they shouldn’t be the only ones. Keep reading »

8 Words I’d Like To Ban From Life

Words We Hate
We want to retire these words and phrases forever. Read More »

I spend an inordinate amount of time reading and writing and thinking about words, why they’re used, how they’re used; how sentences are structured, what human motivations are behind those structures, and what human motivations are behind the assumptions we make about language. That all being said, there are an awful lot of words that have sort of died and become useless, and I’d like to just remove them from popular usage. Here they are, and why. Keep reading »

14 Cool Foreign Words With No Direct English Translation, As Illustrated By Designer Anjana Iyer

“Sure, you can borrow that Junot Diaz book. It’s in the tsundoku pile on my desk.”

As a writer, I’m totally fascinated and obsessed with language, including the absence of specific words from the English language that match fairly common experiences. Like, for example: I have a growing stack of books that I buy and then don’t read — at least not for awhile. When I walk into a bookstore, I just can’t seem to help myself and I know I’m not alone — so why isn’t there a word to describe this impulse?

Well, turns out there is — in Japanese. Tsundoku is defined as “the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling it up together with other such unread books.” And here is how tsundoku is visually explained by designer Anjana Iyer, who’s embarked on a 100 day project to visually explain untranslatable words from non-English languages. Iver is on Day 41 of the “Found In Translation” series and I am obsessed. So many words I’ve been dying to learn — just in other languages.

Here are 14 of my favorite words that Iver has illustrated so far, along with how you might go about integrating them into your English vocabulary. (And be sure to keep an eye on Iver’s website for a new word and illustration every day!) [100 Days Project]

This Linguistic Map Of The U.S. Fails To Take Into Account The Full Range Of “You” Expressions

you vs yinz linguistic map

I’m totally fascinated by the way people talk. Accents, vocabulary and emphasis varies so much, depending on where in the country you live. I lived in the Midwest (land of “pop,” not “soda”) until I was 9, which is probably why my speaking accent is generally pretty flat and indistinct. But I also happened to move with my family to the South and the Northeast, so I’ve heard a wide range of accents and ways of speaking. My flat accent is probably why I won my fifth grade declamation contest when I lived in Fort Worth, Texas. (It was with a poem creepily titled “Touch of the Master’s Hand,” ahem.)

Joshua Katz, a Ph.D. student in statistics at North Carolina State University, created a series of 22 maps exploring the varied and wonderful language and pronunciations around the country. Katz looked at everything from the way people pronounce the word “lawyer,” to the various and sundry terms for traffic circles (roundabouts, rotaries, etc.). The data is really fun to look at, but I must take exception with his discussion of how people around the country address a group. Yes, there’s “y’all” in the South, “you guys” in the West and “you all” in a small pocket of Kentucky. But there’s also “youse” in Philadelphia and “yinz” in Baltimore and Pittsburgh!

Take a look at Katz’s map, and some of the other ones at the link and tell us about the little phrases and words people say where you live!

Words We Hate
We want to retire these words and phrases forever. Read More »
"Twerk" in the dictionary
Twerk Has Been Added To The Oxford Dictionary
See what other words made the Oxford dictionary cut. Read More »
12 Sexy Accents
What are the 12 sexiest accents in the world? Read More »

Douchebags, Sluts & Boners: The Origins Of Some Of The Most Well-Known Slang Words & Insults

Boner. It hasn’t always referred to a penis, you know. In fact, in the early ’80s, there was a sitcom character named Boner, that had absolutely nothing to do with erections. But for those of us born in the ’90s, the term will likely be linked to hard-ons.

There are quite a few words like this — words that may have started out innocently enough but are now “not-ready-for-prime-time” terms. We thought it’d be interesting to explore where words like douchebag, twat and cunt came from. It’s not always where you’d think!

Words We Hate
We want to retire these words and phrases forever. Read More »
New Scrabble Words
G-R-R-L, did you hear about the new word allowed in Scrabble? Read More »
"Game Of Thrones" Lingo
"Make water," "smallclothes," and other words and phrases from the series. Read More »

6 Made Up Nerd Words That Made It To Common Usage, Plus 8 That Should

Let me let you in on a little secret: writers like words. We like them so much. And so where you might wrinkle your nose and wonder why on earth someone might used the word “pulchritudinous” instead of “pretty,” we’re sitting at our desks and cackling with delight.

We got to use “pulchritudinous” today. And it alliterated.

But as a geek or nerd, you get introduced to new words all the time! Science fiction and fantasy are practically in the business; not just of creating new place names, which is a given; but also of making new nouns in general, new verbs, and new adjectives. And while some of those concepts might not be particularly useful outside of their fictional setting, others have, over time, been accepted wholly by the English of reality. With some of these, we’ve forgotten that they were ever words in fiction to begin with.

And so we present six made up words that have since become inextricable from their meaning outside of their fictional origin (runners up include the very mimsy word “vorpal”), and, because we love words, eight words that we would like to say all the time and not get weird looks for (runners up include twip, shwey, slag, and every other silly, silly curse word from Batman Beyond). Read more…

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