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In Next Month's TVR



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Julian Burnside

Julian Burnside
Of all the words in the English language, few have more varied careers than nice. Its meaning has altered more often than that of most other words, and it has always borne several different meanings simultaneously. It was once a verbal chameleon, whose instability might have threatened its survival; it is now much overworked and has sunk to the verbal equivalent of a food extender, or flavoring-101.


Susan Elkin

Susan Elkin
Accurate grammar is the essence of effective communication. Silly old UK chestnuts such as "Rugby is a game played by men with misshapen balls" or "There's a hole outside 10 Downing Street and the Prime Minster is looking into it" make the point well enough without my having to labor it. When those same sorts of errors aren't jokes, they fudge and blur meaning so that much of what passes for written English these days is mere gobbledygook.


Richard Lederer

Richard Lederer
Back on January 12 of 1971 (has it really been that long?), the landmark series All in the Family lit up the tubes of our television sets. Created and written by Norman Lear, the series, depicting a bigoted blue-collar worker and his family, attracted increasingly large numbers of viewers by pushing the envelope long before that phrase became the cliché that it is today. It "changed the face of television," as one critic put it, by presenting some very new elements for a situation comedy — realistic characters, mature themes, frank dialogue, and socially sensitive issues.


Robert Bové

Robert Bové
It's been almost eighteen months since the death of my father, a Marine combat veteran of Okinawa and other Pacific locales, and I have gradually come to accept that I'll live with the loss the rest of my life. Any observer of Dad's funeral Mass, though, might have doubted whether I, my family, or any of the weeping mourners would reach such acceptance when, at the climactic moment, we lined up beside his flag-draped bier and slowly filed out of church, the organist and choir breaking our hearts yet again as they struck up the Marine Corps Hymn.


Richard Carter

Richard Carter
Simply to speak ill of those who truly deserve it shows a lack of imagination. All it requires is simple description. An infinitely more engaging task is merely to praise those whom we think are worth our consideration — and ignore the rest. This positively dispraises the unmentioned by implication. And, indeed, a very effective way for tenure-track literature teachers to stay on track while helping their students distinguish between sound literature and literary litter is to require that those students read good writing to learn what good writing is, and Cliff Notes to prepare for departmentwide exams. Those teachers who are given tenure can then stop assigning Cliff Notes to, for instance, that recent well-seller that has a male dolphin kill the bad guy by raping him. Merely to notice such grotesqueries is to seem to elevate them beyond their proper status — that of literary litter.



The December issue of The Vocabula Review is due online December 17.


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