Archive for September 2018

Suddenly, 'gate' is a word worth defending

Suddenly, 'gate' is a word worth defending
I don’t question that words change; I simply question how they do. I notice when education and careful use tend to ignore particular words — when even basic words are threatened. When sloppy speakers and those who don’t care for words they use run into those who do care, such as your humble and Serious... Read more »

'The Story of English' -- The New Englishes

'The Story of English' -- The New Englishes
“The Story of English,” the book published to accompany a 1980s Public Broadcasting System series in the U.S., spent a chapter looking at “the new Englishes.” In this chapter, it’s not a case of showing how English has developed over time. In this case, it’s geography. I’ve been studying the chapter gradually because of its... Read more »

Being challenged to tell a story

Being challenged to tell a story
I was under the weather last night, so I missed the challenge of our monthly “Blogapalooza” writing prompt until this morning. I’m still home, fighting a sore throat, so I looked for something to read and write to get me through listening to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearings about Judge Brett Kavanaugh. I found the... Read more »
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Me, myself and I -- and how to use them

Me, myself and I -- and how to use them
When you’re talking or writing about yourself and someone else are you careful about using “me” or “I”? If my ears and eyes are any indicators, few people are. So here’s an easy reminder of how to judge which one to use. It takes just a second to check. You’re going to a concert with... Read more »

Needless to say? Then shut up!

Needless to say? Then shut up!
I keep seeing and hearing the words “needless to say,” and I have something to point out about them: Anything that is after those words is, well, needless. So why use them? In all the noise and the “information overload” of the modern world, we all could stand to be stricter editors. So watch your... Read more »

'The Story of English' -- Pioneers! O Pioneers!

'The Story of English' -- Pioneers! O Pioneers!
In Chapter 7 of “The Story of English,” authors Robert McCrum, William Cram and Robert MacNeil report that “Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia lawyer, who… was chiefly responsible for drafting the Declaration of Independence, was fascinated by words.” (Ah, I knew I liked him.) Among the words he invented, “belittle was one of his more famous, much ridiculed... Read more »
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Watch out if someone says he'll 'help you out'

Watch out if someone says he'll 'help you out'
Just a quick observation as we get the week, and perhaps the new school year, started this morning: If someone says “I’ll help you out,” that could mean he’s offering you assistance. But it could mean “There’s the exit door (the door OUT). Use it.” Maybe it would help if we could see punctuation in... Read more »