Author Archives: achouston

More Linguistic Asymmetries


The English prefix un- comes directly from Old English (and shares a common Indo-European root with Latin in- and Greek a-) Prefixed to an adjective A, the resulting new word means ‘not A’ and can convey either positive or negative … Continue reading

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Vamp 21: Old Friends


Fatigued and hungry for blood, Sam opens the door to her Somerville apartment and switches on a light. The others, Rina, Gil and Sandor, follow her in. “The suspense is killing me, Sam! What’s going on?” Rina cuts to the … Continue reading

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Vamp 20: Black Running Shoes


Rina, Sandor and Sam are jammed together at a small table in a loud Cambridge pub. They’d left work a few minutes early today with glum, defiant faces. Leaving early was their symbolic protest against Evan’s treatment of Gil. A … Continue reading

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Teenage, Middle-age, New Age


English can form adjectives from the past participles of verbs. Consider: break:broken  the vase was broken -> the broken vase fall:fallen   his popularity has fallen recently -> his fallen popularity bake:baked  the bread was baked in a brick oven -> … Continue reading

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Vamp 19: Mission Accomplished?


Dean Divers finishes the bad cup of coffee made in the small coffee maker in his motel room. He glances at the alarm clock next to the bed. The guy at the front desk said the mail usually arrives by … Continue reading

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Word Purge


There is an online post at the British newspaper Guardian reporting on words to be excluded from new editions of dictionaries. The post invites readers to list their own choices for words they’d like removed from the English language. My … Continue reading

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VAMP 18: Delayed Pastries


The morning air is bracing as Sam dashes across the street where Lila’s Bakery is. She walks past the shop and down the block and turns into the branch office of a local bank. Good thing I brought the checkbook … Continue reading

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We’re All Verbs Now


Maybe, maybe not. Are there any English speakers today who don’t accept text as a verb? It was an easy move to permit text as a verb, follownig the paradigm of other communication channel noun-verb pairs in English — the … Continue reading

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Linguistic Asymmetries


Have you ever noticed that, while some words which take a prefix seem to form nice pairings with opposite meaning polarity (tie/untie, compliance/noncompliance, tasteful/distasteful), other pairs don’t work this way? For example, there is nonplussed, but not plussed, insipid, but … Continue reading

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Blind Tasting: the Audiobook Edition


Blind Tasting is now available as an audiobook.  You can listen to sample chapters for free and you can also buy the entire, unabridged novel as a digital download. Producing this edition in a recording studio — working with a … Continue reading

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