Mark Halpern







Welcome to, the Web site of Mark Halpern! But am I really the man whose site you want? I ask because I am frequently confused with Mark Helprin, novelist and sometime contributor to the Wall Street Journal; Mark Halperin, formerly news director at ABC, now with Time magazine; Mark Halpern, professor of physics at M.I.T.; Mark Halpern, professor of physics at the University of British Columbia (these last two may be the same person, busy commuting between coasts; for present purposes, all that matters is that neither of them is me); Marc Halperin, San Francisco Bay area restaurant consultant; and perhaps others.

No, I’m the Mark Halpern who’s a freelance editor, onetime software designer and programmer, onetime soldier, onetime college instructor in English. I have degrees from City College of New York and Columbia University in English Language & Literature. I’ve written three books: the first, Binding Time (Ablex, 1990) was on the technology and milieu of computer programming; the second, Language and Human Nature (Transaction Publishers, 2008) is about the inter-relations among linguistics, language usage, and politics; the third, Struggling for our Language (Brynmill Press, 2017), comprises five essays on language that will eventually be posted on this site.

And the photograph above (taken many years ago, but adequate for identification purposes) is offered to further pin down my identity. If I still seem to be the man whose site you want, please read on.

Site Purpose and Groundrules

The purpose of this site is to make it easy for anyone wanting to read any of my writings to find them. They were written for a wide variety of publications and Web sites, some rather inaccessible. The publications include Annals of the History of Computing, The American Scholar, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Atlantis, Communications of the ACM, Computing Reviews, the Housman Society Journal, IEEE Computer, and IEEE Spectrum; and on the Web, they appeared on some sites that have since disappeared, such as The Vocabula Review.

All the pieces posted here are reproduced in full, and essentially as originally published; I've taken advantage of this posting to correct minor blemishes, and from time to time I add something to these pieces, but I have not changed anything of substance. In case of any differences between a text as published elsewhere and that given here, the present version is the definitive one.

Copyright and Reprint Permissions

I believe that in every case I retain the copyright, and am within my rights in reprinting these pieces here, but if I have violated anyone’s copyright in doing so, I will correct the situation on being informed of any such violation. The posting of a piece on this site does not mean that I have relinquished copyright or any other right to it. You may print out a copy of any posted article for your own private, non-commercial use, and you may quote from any posted article within the bounds set by the ‘fair use’ rule; any other use of any piece posted here requires that you get my permission, in writing, and before putting your plan into action. You may of course create links to this site from your own; if you do, I would appreciate being told about it.

Site Organization

The site is organized as follows:

•  A Table of Contents, giving the title of each essay posted here, and links directly to the essay and the comments on it. Each item is prefixed with an icon bearing one of the letters L, P, C, M, or E, standing for Linguistic, Political, Computer, Miscellaneous, or Editing.  These are provided for visitors who may be interested only in articles on a specific topic.

•  A Reply to Author facility that enables you to send a message directly to me, without leaving the site or your current position in the text you’re reading.

•  A Post to Bulletin Board facility that enables you to start, or build on, a thread of comments or questions on any of the posted pieces. As with the Reply to Author facility, you can post to the bulletin board without leaving the site or your current position in the text you’re reading. Update as of September 2009: the Bulletin board has been suspended because it has proved impossible to protect against hacking.


Reply to the Author

If you want to send a message directly to me rather than post a comment on the public bulletin board, please use the form given below. Every message must bear the writer’s full name, e-mail address, and a title indicating its subject. I will answer messages that seem to call for an answer, as my time permits.

To send an e-mail message to me, click here.


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