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English is dead! Long live English!
You may have seen the alarm go up: the word “literally” can now mean, by some official sanction, “not actually literally at all.” I know, it’s horrible, but unscrunch your undergarments for a sec. Rumors of the demise of our lovely language have been greatly exaggerated, and “literally” is not to blame.
In fact, we use plenty of common words in ways that are antithetical to the, yes, literal meaning. Hyperbole is irresistible: we’re only human, and humans love to exaggerate. Think you’re innocent? Rally your armchair etymologists around this hit list of misused words.
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If Newton had written the rules of grammar, things would be a lot simpler: For every adjective, there exists an equal and opposite antonym. Alas, our gem of a language was not carved by any kind of linguistic intelligent design, but rather kind of rock-tumbled into a reasonably workable lexicon by years and years of regular dopes talking and writing.
Sadly, in the dance of English parlance, some words don’t have a partner (the technical term for this is unpaired words). But don’t despair: the power is in your hands (and mouth) to bring back (or invent) a mirror-perfect companion for every sad lexical singleton. Here are six excellent opposites to start throwing around.
Performance art in the street is pretty cool. The art of The Resurrectionist is really cool. Bring the two together live, on a sidewalk? Amazing.
On August 18th, from 11 to 2, come on out to New York City's fabulous Strand bookstore to see author/illustrator E.B. Hudspeth recreate his book cover in chalk, in 3D—on the sidewalk. Stop and watch on the store's Broadway side and see the cover take chalky shape on the ground, then stop inside for your own (portable) copy of The Resurrectionist. (And, in the meantime, check out this interview with the author)
(Image via flickr)
If Camp NaNoWriMo were an actual camp, this would be the week of Color Wars, final bonfires, and tearful goodbyes. We'd all be wrapping friendship bracelets around each others' wrists and promising to keep in touch during the school year. But as bittersweet as the end of the session may be, Camp NaNo has a considerable perk that normal camps don't: a manuscript draft!
Yes, your wonky little Word doc now qualifies as a manuscript draft! It's a momentous occasion that many would-be writers never reach, and one that deserves a little end-o-camp Jamboree. But when the embers have died down (and you've taken a good long break to give yourself some fresh perspective) your next quest, should you choose to accept it, is revising. A first draft is wonderful and pure and (if my experience holds) kind of a mess. It needs some TLC before it can become a book.
There's no Camp Revision-a-wassa to see you through the process, but there are great books to help you shape your manuscript into a story that's worth a whole arm's worth of friendship bracelets (yes, even the cool kind with beads and feathers woven in). Here are my favorite picks—read them, let the ideas stew for a few weeks, and then plunge back in to your book.
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There’s a plague decimating the English language…or syllables of it, anyway. Perfectly good words are getting lopped off at the knees to make those cute-n-compact truncations known as abbreves (i.e., abbreviations, though I’m sure you could have figured that out). Yet for every person who finds them totes adorbs, there is obvi another person who thinks they sound less than profesh.
And while you might think that you’re one of those people fighting the good fight, sounding out every last syllable of gorgeous and family, word shortening takes no vacays. In fact, you probs have used one today without even realizing it. Here are six words that were abbreves before abbreving was cool. Go fig.
Pity the poor bestselling novelist. Sure, those literary juggernauts who manage to crank out a top ten title (or more) every year are blessed with avid book-buying fanbases, but there are certain demographics they just can’t reach. I’m talking, of course, about children—reading level notwithstanding, you can’t just pawn off your paperback of The Firm to your eight-year-old.
But some savvy authors have sought to widen their reach with new series that are Just For Kids—thematically similar to their adult works, but with age-appropriate subject material and easy-to-read language. John Grisham’s got Theodore Boon: Kid Lawyer, James Patterson’s got his Middle School series, and Carl Hiaasen’s penned a few Floridian tales for younger readers.
But why stop there? These writers have talent and bankable identities, and I’ve got book proposal ideas for days. Here are five brand-name middle-grade series that need to happen.
Bobby Langdon and the Case of the Crooked Cryptex by Dan Brown
Brown’s symbologist hero has to get his start somewhere—and hey, it worked for Young Indiana Jones. Curious and inquisitive Bobby Langdon would be a latter-day Jonny Quest, having grand adventures and meddling in G-rated mysteries with the help of globetrotting pals (definitely room for some animal companions, too). Leave the creepy Catholic cults for his post-Harvard life: these cases will be so fun to solve you’ll swear the author’s first name is Encyclopedia.