Q: If there’s a place in the linguistic world for the words “sexting”, “twerk”, and “totes”, why can’t we finally accept “ain’t”? It’s been in common usage for centuries. When will “ain’t” finally be recognized as a legitimate word?

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The grammar police nabbed me recently. A client whose academic paper I was editing objected to one of my corrections. He pointed out that in a sentence where the subject is in the form “Not only…but also,” the verb must agree with the noun in the “but also” part.

Example: “Not only language ninjas but also Rocky Mountain English professors know this rule” and “Not only the Language Ninja, but also the Rocky Mountain English Professor knows this rule” are correct, but “Not only language ninjas, but also the Rocky Mountain English Professor know this rule” is not.

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My new husband is a long-time Ayn Rand fan and has belonged to their Objectivist group for decades. I went to a meeting or two. There were some very nice, seemingly intelligent people there, yet I remained skeptical about some of their beliefs about altruism and their extreme anti-religion stance, among others. So, I thought, “I should re-read The Fountainhead.” I hadn’t read it since my pre-Master of Fine Arts (MFA)  in Creative Writing degree. I remember, though, that I had some trouble slogging through the book, and although the characters were sort of interesting, I had been left with the impression that it was not a particularly pleasurable piece of writing. So, in order to further my fine connection with my new sweetheart, I decided I should try again.

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On any given day, we end up writing in some manner or another—more than likely and at the very least, it’s in an email format.

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[We want a to give a quick shoutout and thanks to our friends at PR News, where this article originally ran (May 2, 2016 newsletter). You can also find it in the PR News Writer’s Guidebook, vol. 2 (200 pages of invaluable PR professional advice). Want a copy? Get $50 off with coupon code Friendwriters16.]


Keyword-based SEO is a trap.

Most of us know that keyword stuffing is a bad idea, but many aren’t aware that most of the effort put into keywords is of low consequence. Keywords shouldn’t be viewed as a primary metric but rather as a natural result of effective content that brings value to the target reader. Algorithms are smarter these days, and effective conversion comes from truly understanding the voice needed to reach the ideal target market.

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Marketing firms follow emerging demographics, so as Millennials transition from the spotlight to the steering wheel, the focus of the advertising industry will begin turning to upcoming generations.

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While the technology is still in the early stages of widespread social acceptance, some would say the future of advertising and marketing is an augmented one. In our digitally fueled business landscape, consumer immersion is shaping B2C creativity now more than ever, and it’s easy to see marketers taking advantage of the latest and quickest evolving platforms in immersive media: augmented and virtual reality.

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Now, I know what you’re thinking.

How much did Trader Joe’s pay him to write this?

Don’t worry—the advertisers haven’t bought me yet. This has nothing to do with advertising and everything to do with me stumbling across a great example of copywriting done right.

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Welcome to the first Language Ninja article of what is sure to be a blazing hot summer!

Ninja’s beat the heat tip: Switch out your heat-absorbing black shinobi shōzoku for a light-reflecting bodysuit made of mirrors. She’s pretty sure you can find one on Etsy.

Now that the practical advice is out of the way, let’s get started on the questions!

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There is almost nothing as metaphorically, if not physically, painful as watching two people who don’t know what they’re talking about try to explain something to each other.

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