Archive for December 2016

'Championship Writing' -- Pet peeves

'Championship Writing' -- Pet peeves
Another of my ten favorites among the 50 chapters of “Championship Writing” by writing coach Paula LaRocque is Chapter 16, “Pet peeves: Go ahead, ax me about irregardless.” (Whew. Typing that subtitle hurt!) For previous chapters covered in this series of posts on LaRocque’s book, try these links for tips about writing that’s bumpy or... Read more »

Merry Mary -- a phonetics professor in Chicago

Merry Mary -- a phonetics professor in Chicago
News item: “My Fair Lady” is the next Broadway-style musical to be produced at Chicago’s Lyric Opera House, starting in Spring 2017. We don’t seem to have “phonetics professors” like Henry Higgins here in Chicago, so imagine an acting coach with a student actress named Mary… a student actress with a Chicago accent. Coach: Say... Read more »

'Championship Writing,' grammatically speaking

'Championship Writing,' grammatically speaking
My next favorite chapter in “Championship Writing’ by Paula LaRocque is “Grammatically Speaking: Writers should avoid polluting the language environment.” (To catch up on other posts in this series, click here and here.) To avoid trouble with pronouns, LaRocque recommends what she calls “the substitution game.” If you need to be sure which pronoun is... Read more »
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Fight for your right to use party as a noun

Fight for your right to use party as a noun
I’ve been a stickler about words for a long time now. In the mid-1980s, around the time I finished my journalism degree and got my first job, I disliked a song called “Fight for your right to party” by The Beastie Boys. I never liked the use of “to party” as a verb. In my school days, the... Read more »

'Championship Writing' -- Fadspeak (ca. 2000), still bad today

'Championship Writing' -- Fadspeak (ca. 2000), still bad today
My favorite chapter for today in ‘Championship Writing’ by Paula LaRocque is Chapter 8, “Fadspeak.” I enjoyed it and benefitted from its coaching when I got the book in 2002. (To catch up with another favorite, click here.) Its lessons in avoiding clichés, or “canned clutter” as LaRocque calls them, are easier to obey now that the... Read more »

If you want to give something, don't "gift it"

If you want to give something, don't "gift it"
I hear a word slipping away — a word we need this time of year. That word is “gift.” It is being misused, and the more it’s used badly, the more likely we are to lose a word. When we don’t know whether we’ve lost “gift” or “give,” we will be in big trouble. If you are shopping... Read more »
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Please pass the humbug! Or just consider the word

Please pass the humbug! Or just consider the word
I went to my usual Webster’s Dictionary when I heard the month’s first mention of the word humbug. No comment on whether I was talking to myself. Webster’s defines humbug as: “1. a) something made or done to cheat or deceive; fraud; sham; hoax b) misleading, dishonest or empty talk 2.  a dishonest person; a... Read more »

'Championship Writing' -- Short words

'Championship Writing' -- Short words
For this week’s look at “Championship Writing,” consider Chapter 6, “Short words.” Author Paula LaRocque approves of George Orwell’s words, “Fuzzy writing always means fuzzy thinking.” If thinking isn’t a problem, LaRocque says, “Then all we must do is focus on form. How shall we deliver the result of our careful thought?” She favors using... Read more »