Posts by Ashley Austrew

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    What Kind Of Songs Get To Be Called “Country Music”?

    by Ashley Austrew What comes to mind when we say country music? Pickup trucks and cowboy hats? Garth Brooks and Patsy Cline? How about West African string instruments and Atlanta-based hip-hop? Past and present, country music—and what gets to be called country music—is far more complex than many realize. What is country music? Country music is defined as “a style and genre of largely string-accompanied American popular …

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    The Changing Language Of Climate Change

    The language surrounding climate change is changing right alongside the climate itself. But, it all began with global warming … What is global warming and greenhouse gases? Climate change was first known to many of us as global warming, a phrase dating to the 1950s that indicates “a longterm rise in Earth’s average atmospheric temperature.” The idea that global warming exists and could be attributed to human behavior, however, was first put …

  3. “Mistress” And Other Words That Have No Male Counterpart

    It takes two people to have an affair, but despite this fact, there is a clear disparity in the way the public generally discusses extramarital relationships. Heterosexual men who have affairs are just heterosexual men who had affairs. But, the women with whom they have those affairs quickly get labeled with another term, one for which there is no effective male equivalent in English: mistress. As …

  4. Is “Anti” Actually An Inclusive Term?

    When we think of positive language, anti isn’t the first word that comes to mind. In fact, anti seems like the very opposite of it. The word is a verbal line in the sand—a division between people who are for something and those who are against it. So, it might surprise you to know that the negative anti is being hailed as a more inclusive way to …

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    When Did “Chemical” Become Such A Toxic Word?

    The word chemical elicits strong reactions from many people. You’ve probably seen viral headlines over the past few years about “yoga mat chemicals” in your Subway sandwich bread or “toxic chemicals” in your mascara. Certainly, you’ve seen people online discussing the “dangerous chemicals” they believe are contained in vaccines. When people see the word chemical, it tends to inspire fear, but should it? What is a chemical? A chemical …

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    Blond vs. Blonde: What’s The Difference?

    Grammatical gender* is an unfamiliar concept to some native English speakers. If you’re learning a language like Spanish, for instance, one of the earliest lessons is that some nouns are feminine (la mesa for “the table”) and others masculine (el café for “coffee”). Gendered words are part of many other languages around the world, too, but not so much in English—or are they? Believe it or not, English …

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    Why Do Journalists Avoid The Word “Liar”?

    by Ashley Austrew Politicians aren’t exactly known for being honest. President Nixon had the Watergate scandal. President Bill Clinton lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. And, in the first two years Donald Trump was president, the Washington Post reported he’s made over 8,000 “false or misleading claims” to the American public. Still, it is rare to see a headline declaring any president or politician a …

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    What Is A “Ban”?

    The word ban gets bandied about a lot these days, from vegan brides wanting to ban meat-eaters from their weddings to plastic straws getting banned from coffee drinks. On an individual level, banning things we don’t like or agree with can be an easy way to rid them from our life. But, zoom out to a governmental and societal level, and bans become much more complex. What …

  9. Have You Ever Experienced Language Denialism?

    What makes something a “real” language? For most of us, real language is the language we speak and the languages that large groups of other people speak. You may not know how to speak French, for instance, but many other people do, and it’s an official language of many countries, so clearly it must be “real.” But, what about different dialects of languages, regional languages, …

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    How Do You Use The Word “Myriad” In A Sentence?

    From college admissions to carbon emissions, it seems society these days is facing a myriad of challenges … or is it myriad challenges? Thanks, myriad. As if we don’t have enough to deal with. Most of us have heard of the word myriad … but can you use it in a sentence? Well, we’re going help make at least one thing simpler and get to the bottom of this …

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