Word Play

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Linguist, lexicographer and the new "On Language" columnist for the New York Times Magazine Ben Zimmer talks about the latest in language.

→ Contest! How can you use today's buzz phrase "Top Kill" in a sentence?


Ben Zimmer

Comments [7]

Ifatyowa from Santiago Panama

I think cool is coo!

Oct. 22 2012 11:10 AM
Dorothy Wright from Ridgefield, CT

Ben, I've noticed an increasing use of the word "So" to begin sentences. During the flu epidemic, a number of doctors and researchers interviewed on PBS did that. It shows up during the NPR broadcasts, as well. My sister, from Michigan, has the habit of ending sentences with "so..." followed by silence.

I'd appreciate hearing your thoughts on this.

May. 27 2010 03:43 PM
Connie from NJ

You can consciously choose to be hip, but you can't choose to be cool--in fact, if you try to be cool, you aren't.

May. 27 2010 11:38 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I meant to write:

It always feels like the person is trying TOO hard to be ..... cool. (Snore.)

May. 27 2010 11:38 AM
Sally Faye from Jersey City

The use of the word cool in Disney's Little Mermaid has always troubled me, the fish Flounder uses it when speaking to Ariel about a sunken ship. Until I heard your broadcast today, I thought the use of "cool" was way out line with the vernacular of the time. Apparently not.

May. 27 2010 11:36 AM
CL from New York

Regarding mid-nineteenth century usage of "cool," I suspect many will recall Ralph Waldo Emerson's remark in Representative Men (1850):

Life is eating us up. We shall be fables presently. Keep cool: it will be all one a hundred years hence. Life's well enough, but we shall be glad to get out of it, and they will all be glad to have us. Why should we fret and drudge? Our meat will taste to-morrow as it did yesterday, and we may at last have had enough of it.

May. 27 2010 11:36 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

The word "cool" is the most overused and over-abused word in the American language. It is often the ONLY positive adjective that some people use, showing a complete poverty of language.

When I hear someone use that word, especially all the time, my regard of the person drops dramatically. It always feels like the person is trying to hard to be ..... cool. (Snore.)

And I find it to be overly patronizing to youngsters.

I once wrote in a personal profile that I avoided 4-letter words, especially "cool."

May. 27 2010 11:36 AM

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