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By William Safire

The Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist discusses modern figures of speech, from witty tales approximately expressions corresponding to "kiss and tell" and "stab within the back" to the evolution of "read my lips."

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Eventually, there's the easy name “comrade,” which, whereas now not prompt outdoors Russia, serves the Russians good while reminiscence fails. William Shinn, Jr. Princeton, New Jersey good day, William Safire! You’re going to have a troublesome time promoting “Greetings” as a salutation to someone who bought a global struggle II draft become aware of! How quickly they omit … John R. Barrington Kingston, big apple Your examine approximately form of deal with neglected the perform of participants of the non secular Society of neighbors (Quakers). The imaginative and prescient of the society’s founder, George Fox, that “there is that of God in each” led him to the perform of now not using titles in salutations, yet addressing every body, king and commoner alike, with given and relatives identify. this custom is saw by way of participants of the society even this present day. The imaginative and prescient additionally ended in the abandonment of the perform of “hat honor,” which ended in many problems, even felony in his day. yet that's one other story/article for an additional day. you could detect his approach to relationship letters, which was once a kind of protest of the incursion of pagan names into the Christian lifetime of the day. That perform is little hired this present day. The retention of “plain Speech”—thee and thy to an individual—I remorse to assert is traditionally used as “inside code” instead of for simplicity this day. Thee can nonetheless listen it used frequently among Quakers and the Lancaster farm proprietors on the interpreting Terminal marketplace in Philadelphia at the present time. i believe convinced thee is aware that this used to be not like the plural you, which used to be used for the Aristocracy indicating that they have been greater than a unmarried individual in price. Philip L. Gilbert backyard urban, big apple P. S. Quakers aren't finish a letter with the regimen expression “Sincerely” as that will indicate that they weren't honest in another letters. identify That Decade “What are we going to name the last decade after the last decade of the Nineties? ” That’s this type of question—not pressing, now not urgent, simply pleasantly problematical—that matters humans within the language keep away from. Short-range, non-strategic planners are already discovering names for what a few of us name the Nifty Nineties. If our optimism is lost, now we have a fallback identify: the Nasty Nineties. (Sorry, Diamond Jim, you can't name the arrival decade the homosexual Nineties as the that means of homosexual is not any longer the only feel of “high-spirited. ”) yet after the yr 2000, within the first decade of the hot millennium, we all must withstand the large challenge in nomenclature. i've been calling the 1st decade of the 3rd millennium of the typical period (or Christian period, if that's what you desire to name the time because the beginning of Jesus) the Zippy Zeros, yet that's just a operating identify. while the name-that-decade question used to be put during this area a number of months in the past, Lexicographic Irregulars rose to the problem of the long run. “Zero has too many syllables, particularly for whatever with out content,” writes Greg Hill of harmony, California. “Oh is not any stable since it is already a letter. Naught is sublime and practical, however it had its probability and didn't stick; in addition to, it truly is spelled humorous.

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