Magazine May 3, 2021, Issue

Of Husbands, Wives, and Hypernyms

(Carl Recine/Reuters)

When the Supreme Court handed down its 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges — the case in which the Court pronounced a constitutional right to same-sex marriage — everyone knew it would have far-reaching ramifications. Soon after, in the 2018 Masterpiece Cakeshop case, the Court was asked to decide whether a vendor could refuse, on religious grounds, to create a custom-made product for a gay wedding. Because of an intricately narrow ruling, we still don’t know the answer to that question. 

To harmless drudges — also known as lexicographers — other tricky questions arose. How do we define marriage? From time

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Bryan A. Garner — Mr. Garner is the author of The Chicago Guide to Grammar, Usage, and Punctuation, Garner’s Modern English Usage, and The HBR Guide to Better Business Writing.

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Books, Arts & Manners




When I saw the chop-suey font in the CNN story I was reminded of a powdered-drink product from my youth: Funny Face.


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