English language

Commentary
12:30 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

OnWords: Momentum

“Momentum” is a word that we don’t usually think of as having a technical origin, even though we hear it used a lot by reporters during election season. A typical use would be something like “Senator Belfry’s campaign seems to have gained momentum following his recent speech to the Bloom County Chamber of Commerce.” There seems to be nothing technical about that.

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Commentary
12:30 pm
Tue January 15, 2013

OnWords: Proper English

What we consider correct or proper English has long been bound up in class distinctions. Prior to the advent of public education, this was much more obvious than it is now. Proper English defined itself as the English used by proper people. “Real” English was the English of aristocrats, thus the phrase “The Queen's English,” which is still with us today.

But even in the supposedly classless or at least socially mobile U.S., we tend to attribute correctness to the social “winners”: educated, urban, northerners, preferably those from “old money.”

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