Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Category Archives: Language

Vetting the Candidates

“Has she been thoroughly vetted?” they ask. It’s an apt question. But do they know what the word actually means?

Prof. Joshua Whatmough — Linguistics 120

This morning, rising with formless, benignant wonderings about my future and vague remembrances of my long-ago youth, I surprised myself with an abrupt focus on Prof. Joshua Whatmough (“WUTT-moe”). I googled and found a perfect description of his terrifying and exhilarating classroom (in 1947) put up on a webpage by one of Whatmough’s former students, […]

Nigerian Scam Mathematics

Over the last 15 years or so I have received perhaps as many as a dozen emails frantically explaining that I have millions of dollars waiting for me in Nigeria if only I would help some poor, benighted soul get his money out of a locked bank account. Usually the scam requires I provide my  […]

North Korean Unicorns: Lost in Translation?

Last week, the official North Korean news agency (KNCA) released a report stating: “Archaeologists of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have recently reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom (B.C. 277-A.D. 668).” The Western press took this as another in the continuing […]

The Very Model of an Amateur Grammarian

Language changes… It does, and nothing can stop the erosion and terraforming. Some, however, stand like King Cnut, striving to hold back the waves. In this spirit, Brit Tom Freeman has written a brilliant parody of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Modern Major General” that places itself, like King Cnut, on the linguistic seashore as the tide […]

Are Milk Duds Duds?

I think this will bring a curl to your lip…you tell me whether it’s a smile or a sneer. I am working on the website for the second book in the Cheesie Mack series: Cheesie Mack Is Cool in a Duel. The book will be released later this month. In this book, Cheesie wonders…since the […]

Ruth Lilly Fellowships in Poetry — 2011

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, and “an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture,” has announced the five recipients of Ruth Lilly Fellowships for 2011. My son, Theodore Zachary Cotler, was one of the winners. Quoting from the Poetry Foundations’s website: The editors of Poetry magazine selected […]

Grandparent Nicknames

A couple of days ago there was an article in the New York Times about the many new and different nicknames for grandparents. Looking to stay and act younger, my generation is no longer just Grandma, Grandpa, Nana, and Papa. In my first Cheesie Mack book, almost-11-year-old Cheesie talks about the unusual nicknames for his […]

A Siyuntist’s Perspective

Little Johnny can read well long before he can spell well. Should you be worried? Should you send him to a tutor? Problem-solving technique can be deductive/analytical or inductive/synthetic. Stated another way, an approach can be convergent or divergent. For every youngster striving for literacy, learning to read and spell requires both convergent and divergent

Curious Readers

During the past school year, I tutored math and language arts in a local fifth-grade class, so when Public School Success Team (PSST), the homegrown non-profit that ran the tutoring program, decided to encourage a continuing flow of student enthusiasm over the summer, I volunteered to lead a course. Conducted al fresco in my backyard, […]