New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Staff Rants and Raves: Language

From the unnecessary and stupid rules to the struggles of learning and speaking, here’s what our staff has to say on languages.


On Creative Use of Punctuation

Anna-Dmitry Muratova, Deputy Managing Editor

Dear Creative Writing student, please, pretty please (!), stop NOT putting punctuation into prose pieces. Unless it’s absolutely necessary and you’re able to prove how in at least three minutes, at least include periods. It isn’t artsy, nor does it add the air of sophistication to your writing! Your writing is beautiful without such an artificial attempt at decorating it.

On Being Misunderstood

Sasha Cohen, Books & Theater Editor

I recently realized that a lot of people do not understand me. Now some of you are probably wondering, “Do you just mumble or something?” But I can assure you that my enunciation is up to par. Others of you are maybe thinking “How could this be, Sasha? How are you misunderstood?” Look, I was just as surprised as you are when I discovered the unimaginable: Yiddish is not mainstream. Oy vey, I know. Please hold your gasps and groans or any other kvetching until the end of my shtick. Yes, I may be a typical NYU student, but my favorite activities include noshing on a bagel with shmir kez and schmoozing with my friend about what it means to be a mensch. Yes, I know I could exclude these words from my daily conversations, but I can’t help myself. I’m kvelling here … KVELLING! So next time you miss your bubbe, need a friend to wipe the schmutz off of your face, want a yente to plotz with or need someone to prevent you from hoarding more tchotchkes, consider me your mishpucha. Yiddish may be considered a dying language but it is alive and well in my vocabulary!

On “I before E except after C”

Helen Wajda, Deputy Opinion Editor

After misspelling “receive” as “recieve” and “field” as “feild” too many times to count in elementary school, my mom taught me the popular mnemonic device, “I before E except after C.” But this rule only came in handy a few times. In fact, most of the time I diligently applied it, it led me astray: I misspelled neighbor, weigh, beige, feisty, protein, weird and seize for an embarrassingly long time until someone took pity on me and explained how to actually spell them. All I have to say is, did the person who came up with this apparent rule just want to make people look stupid, or did they genuinely not realize that only 44 words follow the rule, while over 900 break it? Either way, I’m still recovering from the trust issues that younger me developed from devoting myself to following this rule. 

On Semicolons

Paul Kim, Deputy Managing Editor

What, on God’s green Earth, motivates people to riddle their formerly easy-to-read paragraph with these nasty Cronenberg marriages between a comma and a period? Two sentences are always, in every case, easier to read than one really long sentence scotch-taped together with a semicolon. Semicolons are really more of a loophole than a punctuation mark. Just know that if I’m editing anything, I will rip that semicolon out like it’s a heart and I’m the villain in the second Indiana Jones movie. Of course, this isn’t entirely the fault of some late-teen, early-20s writer who read a blurb on Purdue Owl once and decided to overplay the semicolon like it’s a newly discovered Ed Sheeran song. This is, in part, the fault of the system, by which I mean the keyboard. Christopher Latham Sholes, the inventor of the QWERTY keyboard, when deciding where to put the semicolon on his creation, failed to apply the same logic to the semicolon that he did the emdash. Semicolons are too easy to type (notice how I could’ve used a semicolon to start this sentence, but abstained). If you give a monkey a hammer, nobody blames the monkey for smashing a hole in the wall. Similar logic applies. At the very least, the apostrophe key should be where the semicolon is now. 

On Kahoot

Gabby Lozano, Deputy Opinion Editor

Whenever I think of high school Spanish, my brain goes to the Kahoot theme song. While I want to expand upon my knowledge of Spanish, I hope I can do so without hearing that song again.

On Learning Spanish

Arvind Sriram, Sports Editor

I’ve taken Spanish since the seventh grade, and I still have difficulties understanding when to use preterite versus imperfect.



On the Oxford Comma

Kim Rice, Deputy Copy Chief

There is nothing better than an Oxford comma. NOTHING. Have you ever written a list? That comma between the last two things on the list? The supremacy, the royalty, like nothing can touch it. If not for the Oxford comma, how would we differentiate between the last two things on a list? We couldn’t; there would be chaos, and the only thing that keeps that from occurring is the Oxford comma. There is nothing better and I will continue to fight for the rights of the Oxford comma, especially when it comes to AP Style. Plus, I mean the Oxford comma is the only punctuation rule that I can stand and that makes full sense to me. 

Clarification: I know the Oxford comma is optional and that most people don’t use it but I think that should be illegal and that we should all, constantly, use an Oxford comma.

On Speaking Spanish

Mandie Montes, UTA Editor

I love when I tell people that I’m a daughter of Mexican migrants, because they assume that I don’t speak/understand Spanish because I was born in the U.S. and not in Mexico. And while that is problematic in and of itself (discrimination, etc.), it makes me feel like I have a superpower when other folks speak Spanish because, well YES I CAN SPEAK, WRITE AND UNDERSTAND SPANISH. So I guess be careful the next time you make assumptions about others in regards to language and culture.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email WSN Staff at [email protected].

Leave a comment
About the Contributors
Anna-Dmitry Muratova
Anna-Dmitry Muratova, Under the Arch Managing Editor
Finley  comes from Moscow, Russia! They're a junior studying Journalism and Environmental Studies and it's their fifth semester at WSN. Finley loves all things inclusive, sex. ed., ecology and advocacy for a whole bunch of stuff. They'd love to chat with you if you want to write for Under the Arch! Find them @veryawkwardfinley on Instagram. :-)
Sasha Cohen
Sasha Cohen, Arts Editor
Sasha Cohen is a junior studying Producing and Promotion for the Arts with a minor in Business of Entertainment, Media and Technology. She is from Chicago, but please do not ask her to choose between New York- and Chicago-style pizza. When Sasha is not working, she is often belting Broadway tunes, searching for the best pastries or checking out NYC parks. For more about Sasha, follow @_sasha.cohen_ on Instagram.
Paul Kim
Paul Kim, Managing Editor
In all the past bios Paul Kim has written for WSN, he mentioned he hates cilantro. This is because Paul hates cilantro. He has also grown to hate everything that even remotely looks like cilantro. Parsley has no right to look so similar to cilantro. When he's eating anything, he can never tell if the little green herbs are pieces of parsley or cilantro, so he has to bite into it to find out. More often than not, it's cilantro. To balance out this very negative bio, Paul will mention something he likes: pre-packaged cotton candy. Paul apologizes that this bio wasn't very informative. If you want to learn more about him, check him out on Instagram @pksmash and Twitter @PaulKimWrites.
Kim Rice
Kim Rice, Copy Chief
Kim is a junior (ahhhhhh) double majoring in Journalism and Politics. A born and bred New Yorker, she does say things like "cawfee" and "dawg" but please don't ask her to repeat the words for you, it's kind of annoying. You shouldn't be bumping into her really, but from a safe distance you can find her drinking an iced coffee, walking around, just taking everything in. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @k_r_630 to see and hear random thoughts and pictures of things you can easily see and think yourself.
Arvind Sriram
Arvind Sriram, Sports Editor
Arvind is a first-year intending to study Economics and Journalism. He's from Arizona but proudly proclaims himself as a New Yorker despite living here for only three months. If you want to debate obscure sports topics such as the most valuable role players in the NBA, hit him up on Instagram @arvindsriram04.
Helen Wajda
Helen Wajda, Opinion Editor
Helen is a junior double majoring in Childhood/Special Education and English. She's from Upstate New York (actually Upstate, not Westchester) and enjoys making extremely specific playlists when she's not writing. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @helenwajda.
Gabby Lozano
Gabby Lozano, Dining Editor
Gabby Lozano is a senior studying Global Liberal Studies and minoring in food studies. After NYU, she aspires to work as a digital reporter or producer, but her dream is to become the next Anthony Bourdain. When she's not in school or at WSN, you can find her in the kitchen burning garlic or going for a run along the East River. Follow her latest eats on Instagram @gabriellalasagna.
Mandie Montes
Mandie Montes, Under the Arch Managing Editor
Mandie Montes is a senior double majoring in Journalism and Latino Studies with a minor in French. Yes, that's a mouthful, so try not to ask her about it, ever. She really doesn't know what else to include in this bio and unfortunately because we're in a pandemic, you won't be able to bump into her on the streets of New York. Guess you’ll just have to follow her @mandiemontes on Twitter/Instagram to meet her ~virtually~ and see what she's up to.

Comments (0)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *