Saturday, September 10, 2005

Three language columns

A Winston-Salem Journal columnist explains the phrase "greater than the sum of its parts" and why a band playing a Britney Spears song is covering it but one playing a Beethoven number isn't.

James J. Kilpatrick writes about keeping it simple. (I think this is what almost all his columns are about, but whatever.) I did, however, like this sentence, despite its cheesiness.
Specialized vocabularies are foie gras and peacock's tongues. Today we're serving meat and potatoes.
And the best of the three: Verbal Energy's Ruth Walker writes about headlines that shift as you read them. And that's a bad thing. Her example headline is from the Guardian:
New academy schools fuel education row
What's a noun and what's a verb? She had to read it a few times to figure it out, through process of elimination.

A word on the last word of this confusing headline: "Row" in this sense has nothing to do with taking your boat gently down the stream. This "row" rhymes with "how now" and is a staple of British headline writing: It covers, with admirable succinctness and a dash of informality, concepts otherwise expressed by Latinate polysyllables: controversy, disagreement, contention, debate, dispute.

Except for that "w" stretched open like a salesman's sample case, it's a short word, only three letters. It's even shorter than one of my favorites, "flap." And of course all these describe events or phenomena that are the very stuff of politics and journalism: Newspapers need such words the way tailors need cloth.

1 Comments:

At 5:49 PM, September 10, 2005, Blogger Me said...

quite informative post .... keep it up...
have a great weekend....

 

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