The N-Word and the Triumph of Vulgarity

For the second time in the past month, a video of a group of white girls shouting the N-word made the rounds on the internet. The first was uploaded a few weeks ago, and showed a sorority at the University of New Hampshire singing along to a rather obscene rap song which included the slur … Continued

Culture

Special Snowflake Insists World Create New Word for “Boyfriend”

As if another example of our culture’s narcissism were needed, twenty-something writer Elizabeth Sherman has taken to the pages of The Washington Post to complain that she doesn’t have a term for her boyfriend. Why? Because according to her, the word “boyfriend” isn’t good enough, and society hasn’t provided a new, better one yet. “Cory … Continued

Culture

How SpellCheck and AutoCorrect are Destroying Kids’ Grammar

One thing school-aged parents can agree upon is their dissatisfaction with the lack of writing instruction their children receive in grade school. Writing rules, language arts, essay composition, sentence structure, punctuation, style—all of these things have come up in casual conversations with parents you bump into at the store, in the parking lot, and on … Continued

Culture

Dude, Where’s my ‘Walden’?

A recently announced project on Kickstarter aims to fund the publication of a revised edition of Walden with “modernized vocabulary” and the aim of allowing “modern readers” to be enriched by the famous book. The project is the brain child of writer and designer Matt Steel, a devotee of Thoreau. Written in 1854 during the … Continued

Books

Like, Omigod! We Need to Bring Back Speech and Elocution Classes

The thing that surprised me the most is that they are adults. I was listening to a morning zoo radio show the other day, one of those peppy, commuter broadcasts that are supposed to entertain people stuck in traffic. There were three hosts, and the banter went something like this: “Omigod you guys, I am, … Continued

Culture

Why Do Our Movie Heroes All Sound Like Jeff Spicoli?

To understand just how bizarre an experience it is to sit through Ridley Scott’s new film The Martian, just imagine watching an alternate version of the moon landing in which Neil Armstrong’s first words upon reaching the surface are, “Holy s–t! I made it!” We’re in an age in which resolutely idiotic and childish dialogue … Continued

Entertainment, Movies

The Regrettable Rise of “OMG!”

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a symposium in which a variety of writers and thinkers weigh in on the topic of “Language in the Digital Age.” Look for further contributions on this topic (like this one and this one) throughout the week on Acculturated. “And the word was made text, and then it was spoken.” John Donvan of … Continued

Language in the Digital Age

Assholism: A Review

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a symposium in which a variety of writers and thinkers weigh in on the topic of “Language in the Digital Age.” Look for further contributions on this topic (like this one and this one) on Acculturated. Let me lay out my theory for why the term asshole is derogatory. Doing so will explain why … Continued

Books, Language in the Digital Age

Word to Your Mother

Editor’s note: This piece is part of a symposium in which a variety of writers and thinkers weigh in on the topic of “Language in the Digital Age.” Look for further contributions on this topic (like this one and this one) throughout the week on Acculturated. It’s one thing to ask if I use expletives in speech. But, would I … Continued

Language in the Digital Age