Author Archives: Lane

Language technology in The Economist

The first issue of The Economist in 2017 features my 12-page Technology Quarterly, a special report on how computers learned to understand language and talk back to their human users. They don’t really "understand", of course, but what’s going on under the … Continue reading

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Words of the year, 2016

In The Economist, January 3rd, 2017: "CHOOSING the ‘word of the year’ can be an unenlightening exercise. The last several years have seen language mavens and dictionary publishers pick an emoji (the one meaning ‘crying with joy’), ‘because’ as a … Continue reading

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Meet Lane Greene

An incredibly important navel-gazing announcement: Though everyone calls me Lane, I’ve been writing under my full name, Robert Lane Greene, as an homage to my beloved grandfather, since the beginning of my professional life. It just kind of stuck around … Continue reading

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“Feisty”, Chomsky, bilinguals and Brexit. Oh, and Key & Peele

 Hey there! Do please go read what I’ve got to say on – why women don’t like being called "feisty". – how weird Chomsky’s theories have become – why it may be better to work in a second language – … Continue reading

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The “Johnson” column returns

In the 1990s, The Economist ran a language column called Johnson, which I loved.  In 2010, having been on the newspaper’s staff for a few years myself, I proposed reviving Johnson as a blog, and three years later, it became … Continue reading

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Oi! In London

Another day, a new town, a new hat:  I’m now working from the London headquarters of The Economist, as the deputy Books & Arts editor. I help run the books coverage of The Economist in print and our online coverage of … Continue reading

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This word-nerd was asked to join the American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel. What happened next rocked his world

Last summer I was delighted to be asked to join the American Heritage Dictionary’s Usage Panel, which has included so many great writers and language-experts that I was as intimidated as I was overjoyed.   Then came my first actual … Continue reading

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Just 200 words on Charlie Hebdo

Of all of the statements of solidarity, I haven’t been able to make myself say “Je suis Charlie.” I’m not, and you probably aren’t either. As a journalist, I’ve never covered the kind of people who would kill me. The … Continue reading

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Recent work

So Germany won the world cup, and I reflected on the team’s grace and class in victory. Joe Kaeser has been running Siemens for a year, and I wrote about his progress in tuning up German’s industrial dynamo. And no summer … Continue reading

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What’s new

Long time, no update, but in the past few months, while in business-finance mode I’ve written about clubby boardrooms, Germans’ low-return investment habits, the arms-export industry, and German business lobbying against sanctions on Russia.   With the language hat on, … Continue reading

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