Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
the couple wear(s) matching smiles
the couple steal(s) a moment together
the couple steal(s) a moment alone
the couple take(s) their first spin on the dance floorAnd why?
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Hiking on Bear Mountain a few weeks ago, I was reading (of course I read while I walk--doesn't everyone?).
And the promotional/explanatory text. Bcs I'm not sure you can really *read* a map. I thnk you *look at* a map.
But anyway, there's a stretch of land that's part of the system that was acquired in 1987 via tax delinquency.
It is dedicated to "passive recreation."
The Girl and I got a huge chuckle out of that. How do you passively recreate? (not that you recreate as a verb; we established that earlier)
It does have a meaning--this is another case of "Don't Let Them Get Their Hands on Their Own Jargon."
Passive recreation refers to non-consumptive uses such as wildlife observation, walking, biking, and canoeing.
Passive recreation may be defined as a non-motorized activity that:
-Is compatible with other passive recreation uses
-Does not significantly impact natural, cultural, scientific, or agricultural values
-Requires only minimal visitor facilities and services directly related to safety and minimizes passive recreation impacts
6 conservation reservations
10 municipal parking lots
75 traffic islands at 58 locations throughout the Town
3 walking paths or parkways
Police Station grounds
Thursday, October 16, 2008
GOODBYE, SCHADENFREUDE; HELLO, FAIL. By Christopher Beam
What do you think?
Thursday, September 25, 2008
My good friend Kathy* reminded me that yesterday was National Punctuation Day.
So, a belated good wishes to you all.
It was an auspicious day; I hope you were able to make the most of it.
You may be thinking, “How on earth would I celebrate a day intended to honor punctuation?”
We could send one another flowers, though I don’t think there is a rose varietal named ‘Blushing Apostrophe.’
I was thinking—yes, I do think on occasion—that we could all vow to use as many punctuation marks as possible.
There is a surprisingly long list of punctuation marks; I (well . . . I got a member of my staff to help me think [OK, OK, sometime I need help thinking] of some of them) came up with the following:
double quotation marks
single quotation marks
My staffer and I decided that the “@” symbol isn’t really punctuation, though in our e-mail–centric world, maybe it is becoming punctuation when used in e-mail addresses.
*a college-era buddy of mine, she is also of the copyeditor persuasion
:-) is that a punctuation mark?
I told her I think those are compound punctuation.
Monday, September 08, 2008
In today's funnies, a comic about revising the dictionary
Get busy out there, using up all those old words.
The Girl has made a good stab at it--she had to write and turn in "a piece of polished prose," and I think she misread "polished" for "purple." She got the thesaurus out.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
Flower girl's dresses, Morgane Le Fay, morganelefay.com
Flower girl's dresses, MorganeLeFay.com.
Monday, August 25, 2008
. . . neither of us can run around insulting people, which is what an amazing number of people do when they detect errors, little thinking that they are committing worse errors in so doing.
This applies to correcting individuals, however, not institutions. So you may inform those in authority to act (which the salesperson you approached probably was not) on mistakes of which you sympathetically know they would want to be aware.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Over at Mighty Red Pen, where MRP linked to her newspaper's version of this story about the Typo Eradication Advancement League vigilantes who've been zinged for defacing a permanent sign in a national park (not just a sign--a national historic monument of a sign), a couple of us were defending the practice of writing on vending-machine signs or even bad graffitti.
Why defending it? Well, bcs we'd done it, now and then.
Tell YOUR typo eradication story--what signs have you corrected?
I decided not to pay for it; the story's in matchprint already, and it'd be $400.
The error: " your grandmother's bridal bouquet can be easily recreated at your own wedding."
A hyphen is tradition: re-created.
But I think readers will go right to the proper meaning; we seldom use any form of "recreate" as a verb.
What would you have done?
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
An Associated Press article filed YESTERDAY, titled "Obama veep announcement expected in coming days," by NEDRA PICKLER
His top contenders are said to include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Less traditional choices mentioned include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential prick in 2000 who now is an independent.
Friday, August 15, 2008
For the food, we called them ice pops.
For the sticks? although I certainly called them "Popsicle sticks" as a kid, and that's an instantly recognizable term--we avoided it for crafts done w/ those flat sticks. Technically, they are named "craft sticks."
When you go to buy a bunch of them at the craft store, that's what the package will be labeled.
If you want to buy a bunch online, that's what you should search for. (And of course, you don't want to use TRUE Popsicle sticks, bcs they'll be stained red or purple, and sticky to boot*.)
We sometimes used the term "ice-pop sticks" for food references ("use ice-pop sticks for the corn dogs," e.g.). Our ice-pop recipes called for ice-pop molds, or paper cups and "pop sticks."
Why am I writing about this? Here is what I saw in this morning's funnies. Note the term "ice-cream sticks."
The comic strip One Big Happy for 8/15
It took me a while to get this joke, first bcs I blanked at "ice-cream sticks" (they're technically "ice-cream bar sticks" anyway) and second because "those sticks are sold separately" made me assume you had to buy one stick at a time.
If the writer wren't trying so hard to avoid the trademark, it would have been a much easier joke.
What trademark do you wish was a generic?
*And where did "to boot" come from? I'll look that up later.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The original story read:
*********************************A reader sent a "gotcha!" e-mail, and said:
Hygiene hypothesis’ may be tied to bowel disease
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children who grow up in a spick-and-span home may have a higher risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease, a study suggests.
I believe it should be spelled S-P-I-C . Adding the K makes it a pejorative.
The product is named “Spic and Span”.
And--here is what REALLY SET ME OFF!!-- the Reuters editor responded:
We corrected: GBU Editor
************NO NO NO NO!!!
First, first, first--the sentence is NOT referring to the PRODUCT.
The original phrase, the idiom of long usage, is "spick-and-span." It's short for "spick-and-span new," in which the "spick" from from the obscure English "spick" meaning spike, and "span-new" meant "brand-new." And the phrase has evolved from meaning "brand, spanking new," through "in phenomenally great condition," to "spotlessly clean."
In fact, when the company that created that cleaning product wanted a name, they DELIBERATELY misspelled the idiomatic phrase, in order to *differentiate* it, to make their brand name trademark-able. This is a very common trademark strategy (witness Lite beer, Zip-Loc bags).
(side note: My dictionary gives "spic-and-span" as an alternate, but I wonder how old that is, and whether its rise was influenced by the arrival of the brand name.)
And, the pejorative IS "spic"--short for Hispanic. (**well, maybe that's not where it came from; like a doofus I wrote what I had always assumed. See the comments for Fritinancy's research on possible origin of the pejorative term)
OK, OK, the reader is unfamiliar with the idiom, and overly familiar with the product, and completely un-understanding of trademarks, and products versus adjectives.
But why oh why did the GBU editor *correct* the mistake????
Just because someone took the effort to write and tell you you're wrong, doesn't mean they are right.
(as Terry Pratchett's character Tiffany Aching muses in Wintersmith, "just because someone is old and has no teeth doesn't mean they're wise.")
I still remember the snotty letter I got at McCall's informing me that the *proper* term is "chaise lounge."
And the letter that took issue with the headline "Eat Safe" (to which I responded w/ a letter introducing her to the concept of the "flat adverb," and the dictionary listing of "safe" *as* an adverb, as well as sharing w/ her our worries that "Eat Safely" implied we were afraid you'd stab yourself w/ the fork).
What have you been accused of getting wrong--when in fact you were right?
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
. . . day and night creams contain coffeeberry extract to help lighten brown spots, calm redness, and defuse fine lines.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Sexual assault and harassment cases reported at the University of Iowa have shown no signs of waning in the past five years — in fact, they have ebbed upward by some measures, campus experts say.
Iowa's a landlocked state, as you can tell.
Ebbed upward? What in the world do they think the word “ebb” means?
“Move slowly, as slowly as the tide,” I guess. Mom guesses they meant to say "edged upward."
Few cases reach U of I office
Few cases of WHAT? I looked for an overarching head, but couldn't find one on the page.
I went looking to see if it was a subsection of a larger article about "sexual harrassment at colleges"
I'm guessing that it's a sidebar to this story:
but there's no link between the two stories on the website.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
There have been 3,000 requests filed during the Bogoyovich administration, but he's just granted 89 pardons, and decisions on nearly 2,000 cases are pending.
Brian's Common Errors in English: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/
Which is also a book: http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/book.html
And, it turns out it *is* in the Eggcorn Database. I did a search for it on that site and didn't find it, or a second thread of comments, but Google turned it up.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
" . . . Of course, being pickier may mean that women like "Almost A Bride" will miss out on that "full-time mommy dream" you talk about — or whatever you'd call life with a tantrum-throwing 3-year-old who's just this side of 50.
STYLE NOTE: Please make COULD and WILL lowercase and italicized.
< But because something COULD happen to somebody in your demographic doesn't mean it WILL happen to you. >
Oops--I think she wasn't talking to us. Oh, well, at least it makes sense to us! (and, it could be a sort of jaunty writing tactic, which I would not put past Ms. Alkon at all--and it's sort of fun if it is that. It's just that I've never seen her do that sort of thing. Carolyn Hax, yes. Amy Alkon, no)
. . . Now, there is that chance he's freezing up out of performance anxiety or because he sees sleeping together as an I.O.U. for commitment. But more than likely, his favorite sex positions are spooning, snoring, and doggie-style — as in, rolling over and playing dead.
Ultimately, the person in need of your honesty is you: whether the man for you is one who's always got Mr. Happy at the ready, or whether you can make do with a guy who should probably pet-name his entire sex drive Nuclear Winter.
STYLE NOTE, CONSERVATIVE PAPERS ONLY: In the first paragraph, "doggie-style" can be omitted (only if you must!). The last sentence in the first para can be replaced with this:
>Now, there is that chance he's freezing up out of performance anxiety or because he sees sleeping together as an I.O.U. for commitment. But more than likely, his favorite sex positions are spooning, snoring, and rolling over and playing dead.<
This is much more comprehensible than the line, "with enemies like this, who needs goose allies?"
That's the last line of a Field & Stream article a friend of mine edited years and years ago. The story was about something like a wetlands conservation group that found local farmers (who you might have expected to favor draining the wetlands) were in fact pursuing the same conservation goals for reasons related to their own industries. That last line was intended to marvel at the role of these expected enemies: "with enemies like this, who needs allies?"
Whence the goose?
At the time, the magazine used a dingbat at the end of every story--one in the shape of, you guessed it, a goose.
My friend dug out the proof, and indeed, someone had written "goose" on it and drawn a line pointing vaguely in the direction of the last sentence. This being the days of out-of-house typographers (hey, it wasn't THAT long ago; technology moves pretty fast, I'm not THAT old, it's just that I was very young when this story happened!), the typesetter, not being an editor and not being familiar w/ the story, had simply inserted the word "goose" somewhere without querying it, and nobody caught it.
What typographer/proofreader mark have you seen in print?
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
"scanning 1th page now."
Friday, July 18, 2008
". . . and happiest when he's firmly on home base"
"M&Ms is getting even sweeter on weddings"
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Where does the word coco come from?
Here are our choices:
* The Aztec word cachuatl for chocolate
* From the Portuguese word coco, meaning 'goblin'
* From the French caocao meaning milk
I'm thinking,"'What word did they mean? Cocoa?"
OK, so I know it's cheating, but I get out the Web9 on my shelf to look up the word "coco."
It's the fruit of the coconut palm. (the answer: 'goblin,' which was my guess bcs I assumed they had proofread themselves--a chancy assumption, but one I felt it was fair to make; if I got it wrong because of my assumption, I'd just add one on to my score at the end--who would know?)
"to pimp,' or more broadly, to provide base gratification. How did it come to the English language?From Pandarus, who acted as go-between for Troilus and Cressida during the Trojan War (Boccaccio).
I've gotten all hung up on Terry Pratchett. If you hate fantasy, you won't like him, probably. But if you kind of like fantasy, and really like language, and like social insights and social commentary, I bet you'd love him.
Here's my favorite line from today's subway reading.
"Deep in the snow, in the middle of a windswept moorland, a small band of traeling librarians sat around their cooling stoe and wondered what to burn next.
"Tiffany had never been able to find out much about the librarians They were a bit like the wandering priests and teachers who went even into the smallest, loneliest villages to deliver those things--prayers, medicine, facts--that people could do without for weeks at a time but sometimes needed a lot of all at once."
from The Wintersmith, Chapter 7
Saturday, July 05, 2008
I'm in Hawai'i on vacation (eat your heart out), thanks to my Army-man brother, and reading The Honolulu Advertiser.
Today in the arts & leisure section, there's a mini review for the movie The Rape of Europa.
I read the last sentence six times before I could figure this out. (OK, OK, I was reading at the breakfast table, so I wasn't really concentrating hard.)
Film critic Roger Ebert gave it ***.
(I can't do the solid black stars on here.)
OH! Roger Ebert gave it three stars!
Use English, please!
All right, I sort of like the idea of using symbols as though they were words, for fun--but not in a straight news story.
What symbol have you been tempted to drop into written work?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
and Stuart Froman, whose "That's Write" blog is new to me.
Who all got me to thinking of the words that have entered my own personal language. Usually from kids, to be exact.
Here's the one that will outlast them all, I think:
underbrella--from my little sister, who is now 40 years old.
My daughter once said, "I got sidestracted"--which I absolutely love.
And when she was REALLY little, she made up two words. The first one I loved but lost; the second one I wrote down, and we used it for several years: fenifidy (feh-NIF-ah-dee)--lots of things to do.
What are your favorite neologisms?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
He writes this sentence:
They call the forbidden words, "loaded terms."
I would not have put the comma there, nor would I have used quotation marks. I consider the word "called" to have alerted readers to the "word as word" nature of the term that followed. This fits the rules I was tauhjt.
And yet, when the terms are as multipart, is it confusing? I think i would buy an argument for quotes, but not for the comma. What about you?
Monday, June 16, 2008
I used the word stentoriously in the post below. It's a fun word--it just sounds so pompous! And it has a very useful meaning & connotation.
But I wanted to be sure I spelled it right, so I went to look it up.
It's not in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate (nor on m-w.com). The adj form is: stentorian. And it's on Dictionary.com, which I will grudgingly trust. Of course, it's perfectly acceptable to adverb a word.
But I was fascinated to see its root! (It showed up in 1609, not that long ago, actually; I should go study the history of language or English lit, or something; I bet there was a time period of influx of all those Greek mythology references)
Latin, from Greek Stentōr, Stentor, a Greek herald in the Trojan War noted for his loud voice
I hadn't known about Stentor before. This is fun.
I wonder, if we were trying to invent the word now, whose name would we use?
Oh, and I was musing on the term Trojan horse the other day, too, thinking that it's SUCH a useful term, and such an amazing, classic idea--the seemingly harmless thing you bring inside your defenses that actually carries the seed of your destruction within it.
What's your favorite word from Greek mythology?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
In today's Wall Street Journal (June 12, 2008), a front-page story titled "On the Lam and Living Large: Comverse Ex-CEO Parties in Namibia"
The subject of the story is introduced this way:
Jacob "Kobi" Alexander, the Israeli-born, former chief executive of Comverse Technology Inc., a New York Software company, who is wanted in the U.S. on stock-options backdating charges.
The point of interest to me is that comma--the one right after "Israeli-born."
I would not have used it. ". . . the Israeli-born former chief executive of . . ."
This sort of comma--the one between adjectives--is giving me fits lately. I feel almost as though I've lost my bearings. At work, in other publications--I see other copyeditors who have put it in between adjectives where I would never have placed it. Or I wonder where it is, in text that I *know* has been reviewed by a copyeditor.
(In fact, I'm so troubled by this, and so weirded out at seeing commas in strange places--or not seeing them where I'd want them--that I started an e-mail group w/ the people whose copyediting judgment I trust most--I call it "Comma No Comma")
What about you--comma after Israeli-born, or not?
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Today over on the fascinating blog "Separated by a Common Language," Lynneguist says this in her discussion of the origins of the word "eyeball" in the measuring/estimating sense:
But since it's slang, we'd expect that it goes back quite a bit further in the spoken language than in written sources--we just can't pinpoint when.
That got me wondering whether this is changing in our current publishing culture--as more magazines and even newspapers try to be "zippy," are we creating a much shorter "distance" between slang creation and slang documentation (first appearance in print)?
I know in my own career this is true; at the women's service magazine I worked at in 1994, we weren't particularly out in front. We used some slang, but usually not the newest. It didn't fit our tone, and probably not our readership.
At my current pub, our publishers are pressing us to be "zippier." So we make more cultural references, and use more cultural references.
And the Web is going to really change that. I use web searches even know to find out how (or even whether) a slang term is used by different groups of people. If there's a way of holding onto some of the reader-posted, non-edited/filtered material on the Web, etymologists will be able to date word origins much more accurately.
How fast does your publication adopt/accept slang terms?
(someday I'll figure out how to do a blogroll, I promise)
Friday, June 06, 2008
I would never have thought it was one word--In fact, I'd have hyphenated it.
I think I'd only use it as an adj phrase before a noun--"that's a bunch of high-falutin' nonsense," but never "his comments are always high-falutin'."
Note the apostrophe to stand in for the g.
(falutin' apparently coming from "flute," perhaps, maybe, sez M-W)
Would *you* have automatically made it one word?
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
And I see that the Texas Administrative Code recognizes this term:
"Cigarette Nicotine Yield Rating Reporting Requirements," Title 25, park 1, chapter 101, rule 101.5: "if the brand styles within a private label or generic cigarette brand family are identical "
How about this complete and total contradiction:
"Miami-based generic cigarette maker Trademark Holdings Corp. faced a tough choice recently: Cease production of its new and profitable Cowboys brand cigarettes -- which are packaged with the image of a cowboy astride a horse -- or shoot it out with Philip Morris U.S.A. in an intellectual property lawsuit."
I mean, jeez, they're repositioning an existing brand, and *calling* it a generic?
The NYTimes recognizes the term. There's a reference in a law journal to a "branded 'generic' cigarette."
This term is all over the place--it's making my head hurt. I'm glad I don't smoke.
What's with this? is there some basic standard that all these companies are following, and that is what makes it generic? But even then, if they put ANY sort of name on it, isn't it no longer a generic?