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From the November 2020 Print Edition

One of the disappointing features of our controversies about biblical translations, the readings in the lectionary, the composition of our hymnals, sacred art in our churches, and gestures and actions in our liturgies, is that people in charge of things seem to be poorly versed in the humanities. . . . . Continue Reading »

Really Modern English

From the April 2016 Print Edition

Reynard the Fox: A New Translationtranslated by james simpsonliveright, 256 pages, $24.95 A few weeks ago I found in my mailbox a brand-new, plastic-sealed, hardcover copy of Shakespeare’s complete works, sporting on its cover a close-up hellfire picture of a jester’s cap and bells, which looked . . . . Continue Reading »

Grammar Lesson of the Day: And

From First Thoughts

“Never begin a sentence with  and, ” my college freshmen have been told. This is another one of those rules that somebody must have dreamed up in a rage of vengeance: a schoolmaster named Ichabod, disappointed in love, glowering down on his young charges, and thinking, “Yes, I . . . . Continue Reading »

Word of the Day: what

From First Thoughts

I like how hillbillies pronounce this relative pronoun:  hwut. It’s truest to the spelling and the history of the word. Wally Cleaver pronounced it that way, too. He said  hwen  and  hwere  and  hwy? A well-brought-up lad he was. The monks who introduced the Roman . . . . Continue Reading »

Grammar Lesson of the Day: But

From First Thoughts

“Never begin a sentence with  but. ” So my college freshmen tell me. They also tell me that people in the Middle Ages thought the earth was flat (everybody knew it was round), that women in the Middle Ages were no better than cattle (they had more freedom than they would enjoy until . . . . Continue Reading »

Word of the Day: wax

From First Thoughts

The verb  wax,  meaning  to grow,  has only a few surviving uses in English. The moon  waxes  and wanes. And people  wax  . . . some adjective, usually describing their gestures or their speech. Note: adjective, not adverb. It’s often misused. If John is . . . . Continue Reading »