Day the Rivers Run Green

At least they do in [tag]Chicago[/tag] where [tag]St. Patrick’s Day[/tag] is celebrated in the proper way. St. Patrick, of course, was actually a Scotsman who was enslaved by the Irish, escaped, converted to Catholicism, and came back to wreak his revenge on those pagans (my ancestors). Anyway, his death and sainthood definitely led to something […]

A Life Isn’t Worth a Full Sentence?

While driving home on Thursday, I had the radio turned to ESPN.  The top-of-the-hour news concluded with this item: “Former baseball commissioner [tag]Bowie Kuhn[/tag], passing away today at 80.” Now, what gives here?  This isn’t even a full sentence, just a fragment.  I realize that fragments are broadcast journalism style, but doesn’t a person of note–or any […]

Amid Other Postings, Amid Stands Out

I have a professional colleague who is an Iranian immigrant and who taught himself English as he attended UCLA for a few degrees.  He’s now a scientist who speaks accented but generally well-constructed and grammatical English.  Amid all these accomplishments, one word still drives him batty, and that word is amid. As much as I […]

Are Jokes Really Funny?

I recall on many an occasion sitting in an audience, or in front of a boob TV, and listening to a slew of jokes that weren’t the least bit funny.  I didn’t laugh, but virtually everyone else did.  I just figured I had a different sense of humor or too much intelligence–take your pick. Now […]

Craic Me Up, Will You?

In honor of this weekend’s [tag]St. Patrick’s Day[/tag] festivities, we should look at the derivation of the word the Irish use to describe the event: craic.  Craic is actually a Scottish or Ulster-Scottish word, but it applies.  It means “good time” or “celebration,” or sometimes just to talk a lot. From craic, we get the […]

Charles Lamb on Retirement

The Wall Street Journal has this weekend feature called “Masterpiece,” in which various English and other authors and their works are discussed. This past weekend came up for discussion the essays and letters of Charles Lamb (1775-1834), whose primary sustenance came from being an accountant for the ur-global giant, The East India Company.  In his […]

Comma-phobia or Comma-rhea?

There are two types of people in life (English speakers anyway)–those who are comma-phobic and use too few commas when they write, and those who have comma-rhea and use commas everywhere.  Both are obviously wrong, and the [tag]proper use of commas[/tag] lies somewhere in between these extremes. One of the problems here begins with the way English […]

Body Language Redux

I tuned in to "[tag]The O’Reilly Factor[/tag]" on Fox last night (Tuesday, March 6) and noticed that, in one of his segments, host [tag]Bill O’Reilly[/tag] employed a body language expert to analyze his discussions with a guest.  I’ve never seen this done before, and everything this expert noted seemed accurate to me.  I’m not sure how often O’Reilly […]