Until we meet again


I'm so sorry to have been out of touch for the past month. In that time I've taken on a new assignment in an undisclosed location - which, sadly, means I'll continue to be out of touch for the foreseeable future.

Of course, as the events of recent months may have already brought home to you, the future is not foreseeable. This is true of the future that led to this blog and of the one that has now led to its suspension. I can't help assuming it will remain true of the present and future futures.

One thing that might nevertheless have been foreseen long ago is that The Atlantic and my language columns would make a home for themselves on the Internet. The Atlantic came to the Web very early. We became a content provider for America Online at a time, in the 1990s, when the magazine had more subscribers than AOL did. Back then, I hosted a month-long forum on AOL, answering people's questions about language. By the end of the month, I was being interviewed about my emergence as one of the most popular columnists on the Internet. (No, I'm not kidding.)

That led to the development in 1995 of Word Court for the print magazine, which led to the publication of my first book, Word Court. That led to the development of Word Fugitives as an online feature for The Atlantic in 1998 (by which time The Atlantic had its own popular Web site). And that led to the publication of Word Fugitives as a book, my third, in 2006. All of this led to many other things, not least among them the launch of this blog late last year.

The timing of the launch of almost anything late last year can be said to have been unfortunate. Economics do not permit, etc. Hence my new assignment, for an entity that shall remain nameless for now, in a location that shall also remain undisclosed.

I do hope my language columns will return to The Atlantic in a near future that is as yet unforeseen. If you'd like to help bring that about, please study the roster of Atlantic advertisers and buy a lot of stuff from them. (You could also send a letter to the editor.) In fact, please buy a lot of stuff generally to help get the global economy back on its feet.

When that happens - and I have no doubt President Obama is right that it will happen - I will take the global economy's health as a sign of your abiding interest in the English language and your dedication to my columns about language. I will be grateful that you moved heaven and earth and pixels and dollars to bring these columns back to the magazine that was my professional home for so long. 

In the meantime, please visit me at my other professional home, www.wordcourt.com. And if the physical location of the courthouse pictured there is known to you, I advise you to tell no one, lest you risk an unfriendly late-night visit from the Word Police.

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Visit Barbara Wallraff’s blog, at barbarawallraff .theatlantic.com, to see more commentary on language and to submit Word Fugitive queries and words that meet David K. Prince’s need. Readers whose queries are published and those who take top honors will receive an autographed copy of Wallraff’s most recent book, Word Fugitives. More

Barbara WallraffBarbara Wallraff, a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic, has worked for the magazine for 25 years. She is also a weekly syndicated newspaper columnist for King Features and the author of Word Fugitives (2006), Your Own Words (2004), and the national best-seller Word Court (2000). Her writing about language has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wilson Quarterly, The American Scholar, and The New York Times Magazine.

Wallraff has been an invited speaker at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the National Writers Workshop, the Nieman Foundation, Columbia Journalism School, the British Institute Library of Florence, and national or international conventions of the American Copy Editors Society, the Council of Science Editors, the International Education of Students organization, and the Journalism Education Association. She has been interviewed about language on the Nightly News With Tom Brokaw and dozens of radio programs including Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm Show, and All Things Considered. National Public Radio's Morning Edition once commissioned her to copy edit the U.S. Constitution. She is a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel. The Genus V edition of the game Trivial Pursuit contains a question about Wallraff and her Word Court column.

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