Baldo Cartoon: Text Punctuation

Cartoon in which a young man is appalled that his father uses a period in a text message; the young man’s companion agrees.

Have you noticed that texting styles vary a lot between generations? [Insert eyeroll emoji.] Silly question. Of course you have. There are many cultural factors that contribute to style variation in texting, and age/generation is certainly one of them. When you notice it, is it amusing? Annoying? Endearing? In this August 2021 Baldo cartoon strip, the youthful main character reacts with horror to a text from his dad. Hector D. Cantú and Carlos Castellanos’ strip has appeared in numerous daily newspapers in the US for more than 20 years. Its humor is principally centered around family life, and like many other daily strips, the characters never age.

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Am I Wrong to Judge People for Talking to Me in Emoji?

A cartoonish drawing of an emoji-style person, shown from the chest up, arms crossed with hands raised, surrounded by six smaller emojis.

Image credit: Jan Siemen

Advice columns are a consistently popular media feature, and there are many types—advice about romance, pet care, money management, workplace relationships, and more. Wired, a magazine that covers assorted aspects of cybertechnology, publishes an advice column about—what else—technology. In this September 2022 column, Meghan O’Gieblyn (writing under the pen name “Cloud”) addresses a rather snotty question about emoji, and her response may surprise you.

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How Place Names Impact the Way We See Landscape

A highway in Arizona leads to a large, rocky cliffside. The signs on the highway read: "Exit 359, Grants Rd, 2 miles," and "Arizona Welcome Center Rest Area."

Image credit: Lupton, AZ. MARELBU, Creative Commons License

When we look at a familiar landscape, we automatically associate its features with the names that we’ve learned for them. What do those names mean? Are they personally meaningful to you? In this May 2022 essay from High Country News, Brian Oaster (they/them), investigative journalist and member of Choctaw Nation, argues that restoring meaningful Indigenous place names would carry a benefit for non-Natives and Native alike.

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“Qué lo qué, papi”: Giants Bridge Cultural Gaps with Spanish Classes

San Francisco Giants outfielder Luis González leaps up right at the wall to make a spectular catch of Chicago Cub Christopher Morel’s fly ball.

Nearly a third of Major League baseball players in 2022 come from countries outside the United States, and the great majority of them are from Latin America. (The Dominican Republic alone accounts for slightly more than 10% of all MLB players. We don’t know how many of the Latin American players are already Spanish/English bilingual when they arrive (many certainly are), nor do we know how many Latino US-born players are also Spanish/English bilingual. What we do know is that language and communication can’t be taken for granted on any team. Maria Guardado,’s staff writer who covers the San Francisco Giants, wrote this April 2022 report on an unusual effort being taken by the team to help bridge a language gap.

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A New Report Shows the Impact of Racial Justice Protests in 2020 on Three Local Newspapers

Demonstrators holding up a "No Justice No Peace" sign face a row of armed police officers.

When someone we know provides an account of an event, we generally know how to interpret their individual take; we probably know when they’re likely to get dramatic or when they’re likely to downplay something. We make our own adjustments to what we’ve heard in order to get closer to the truth. Do we know how to make the same kinds of adjustments with major news sources? We, as individuals, may not, but there are organizations and projects, such as Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab, that monitor news media. They observe and analyze the reporting in order to inform and advise journalists and the general public about possible subtle slants in the coverage. In this January 2022 report, Nieman’s deputy editor Shraddha Chakradhar summarizes a report analyzing news coverage of 2020 protests against police brutality in the daily newspapers of three cities where major incidents have occurred.

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Making Gender-Neutral Emojis Is More Complicated Than You Think

Picture this: a teacher and a farmer are playfully chatting at a party. You got the image? OK, now here’s a question: in the mental picture you just created, does the farmer have a gender? Does the teacher? English doesn’t require gender marking on those two words the way that many other languages do. Still, all of us who are adults today have been deeply socialized to automatically apply a gender to any other human we encounter, even imaginary ones. That socialization is changing, of course, but while we’re in the midst of the changes, life can get a little complicated. Even emojis can have a hard time; in this November 2020 Wired report, freelance journalist Shira Telushkin explains the complications.

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Women of Letters

A black and white photo of an older couple.

Do you have a middle name? Not everybody does. Some people have two or more. If you have one, do you use it? Do you shorten it to an initial? In the US, we have some leeway in the ways that we identify ourselves, so you may have encountered these questions already in your own life—what name to put on, say, a job application or an apartment rental contract. Deborah Cameron, a feminist linguist who pays attention to many aspects of language use, wrote this July 2021 post about names for her blog, Language: a feminist guide. (By the way, she writes her blog under the name debuk.)

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G Is for Gabi

A child lies on a bed reading a Fodor's guidebook to Washington, DC.

When his family moved from one country to another, a boy’s whole relationship to his name changed. We bet that wasn’t the consequence you expected to read after the dramatic first part of that sentence, but think about it: we carry a lot of drama in our names. Johns Hopkins University student Gabriel Lesser was that boy; read his account in this April 2021 narrative in the university’s News-Letter

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