‘Wordcraft’ details birth of brand names and semantics of ‘berries’

There is a moment every marketer both dreams of and fears. It is the time when a brand name, by decree of the dictionary or whims of the zeitgeist, becomes a common noun or a verb. This can be a blessing—the ultimate validation of a name that is both catchy and meaningful. But it can also be a curse. The more widely a word is used, the harder it is to legally protect as a trademark. In a brand name’s infancy, however, the thought of gaining this kind of cultural currency is an inspiration to professional namers, says Alex Frankel in his new book “Wordcraft: The Art of Turning Little Words into Big Business” (Crown, $24.95).

Business school emphasizes a ‘values-based’ curriculum

The Loyola University Graduate School of Business has new billboards around town that read, “We educate values-based leaders.” As timely as the tagline is in this era of Enron/Tyco corporate scandal, it raises one question: What exactly is a values-based leader? “Most business schools do an effective job educating students about the technical aspects of […]

‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ takes on poor punctuation

Centuries ago, the word “stickler” meant the judge of a duel who made sure all the rules were obeyed. To author Lynne Truss, those were the good old days. At least people listened to that kind of stickler. Truss’ new book “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” has become an unexpected best seller.

Linguists hunt and study words in their natural habitat

Sometimes language lovers sound as if they’re on a safari. They talk about observing words in their natural habitat and studying their behavior in herds. With the first release of the American National Corpus, an annotated body of over 10 million words, linguists can hunt like never before.

Once Again, Without Feeling: Athletic Cliches a Team Effort

It’s the season of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and, as they inevitably say, you can throw the records out the window. And the mathematics. Over the next three weeks, in pregame pep talks and postgame press conferences, players and coaches will repeatedly make the math-defying pledge to give 110 percent and offer up boundless […]

’60s American culture altered communication

When did the term “rhetoric” become an insult? When did the word cease to mean artfully crafted speech and start to convey scorn, as it does when we hear a campaign speech and mutter, “That’s just rhetoric”? The answer is 1965, says John McWhorter in his recent book, “Doing Our Own Thing: The Degradation of […]

The Jesuit Scholar Who Translated ‘The Passion’

The task of achieving linguistic authenticity fell to Rev. William Fulco, a Jesuit priest and professor of ancient Mediterranean studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Gibson got Fulco’s name from Yale University, where Fulco received a doctorate and taught Aramaic. In 2002, Gibson gave Fulco the script written by Benedict Fitzgerald, mostly derived from the Gospels, and asked Fulco to translate it into Aramaic , Hebrew and Latin. Fulco later translated the script back into English subtitles.

‘Sex and the City’ redefined the way women talk on TV

As “Sex and the City” reached its series finale Sunday, eulogists duly examined the mark it made on popular culture, from its snazzy shoes and outfits to its portrayal of single women. But few paused to note another aspect of the show’s legacy: its language. Its adult language, to be exact.