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As the language of layoffs continues to evolve, David Gillen and Will Storey question whether or not you can really sugar-coat being fired.

1. According to Geoffrey Nunberg from U.C. Berkley, where does the term “you’re fired” really come from?
2. What are the three categories that Nunberg says are associated with the language of layoffs?
3. Which of the terms mentioned do you think is the worst grammatical disaster in the language of layoffs and why?

Gillen, D. and W. Storey. (2013) ‘You’re Fired,’ in Terms Only a Boss Could Love. The New York Times, Oct. 24 (Retrievable online at