Having been out of town most of the last week, I'm just now catching up on some reading. Here's some stuff to check out:
I missed PBS's "How to Speak American" last week, alas. But it looks as if the program's Web site offers the next best thing. It's extensive. I've barely made a dent in the articles here, but I've found some good ones already, such as this one on why the OED has created a North American office. It's written by Jesse Sheidlower, who was mentioned here yesterday. And it also points out that Sheidlower is the author of "The F Word." (And I will use this opportunity to ask Mike Marlett if I can please get back my copy before we both forget that it's mine.) I love the Track that Word feature, with the definitions of recent coinages in such categories as college (e.g. off the hook), 20th-century miscellaneous (brewski) and Dictionary of American Regional English (blue norther). I could go on and on. And I probably will later. If you have a few hours (days?) to kill, check it out.
William Safire writes about "tongue-tippers," or "terms used in place of words on the tip of the speaker's tongue but just beyond linquistic reach." Whatchamacallit, doodad, hootis ... He hunts down the origin of a couple, but most elude him. (And a side note here. I found this play on words annoying: "I touched database with Google and can offer only one previous citation..." Groan.)
James Kilpatrick writes about misplacement of "only." He says: "No little dog's trick of the writing art is easier to master. No rule of prose composition is more widely abused." He offers plenty of examples of misuse -- not that any of us need them. We all have plenty of our own.
There'll be more to come, I'm sure.