Category: Words Worth Defending

My Imaginary Writers' Room gets a poet: Robert Burns

My Imaginary Writers' Room gets a poet: Robert Burns
Like many Scots and those of Scottish heritage around the world, I’m getting ready to celebrate Burns Night on Jan. 26 — our committee holds its “Nicht Wi’ Burns” (or Night with Burns) on the Saturday closest to the poet’s birthday, Jan. 25. Of course, I thought of writing something poetic to honor the occasion.... Read more »

Forte vs. fort -- there should be a distinction

Forte vs. fort -- there should be a distinction
Sometimes watching or listening to something familiar at an odd time can unearth distinctions to words that were unnoticed before. That’s what happened to me this morning when I had a little time for my personal “Insomnia Theatre.” I was tired of the news, but too tired to sleep, so I put on a rerun... Read more »

A reply to Christopher Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune: I have problems with cliched language, too

A reply to Christopher Borrelli of the Chicago Tribune: I have problems with cliched language, too
I was delighted by a headline in the Chicago Tribune today (Jan. 15, 2019): “Cliched language is, well, problematic.” For those of you who missed Christopher Borrelli’s column under that headline, here’s a link. (The headline that caught my eye was the print version; the online version contains different, but still bothersome, words.) Borrelli refers to... Read more »
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Have some empathy -- but empathically or empathetically?

Have some empathy -- but empathically or empathetically?
(Author/editor’s note: My thanks to Dr. L.W., my onetime teacher and present-day good friend, for this fine idea of which word to defend.) I have been asked to look for the difference between empathic and empathetic — both relating to the word empathy. At first glance I couldn’t tell which word needed more defending. Here’s what... Read more »

Gloria the angel -- you know, Harold's friend!

Gloria the angel -- you know, Harold's friend!
Hearing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” brings back a memory at least once a year. Thanks to the flat Midwestern accents I heard from most people as I grew up, I thought “herald” — not a word I heard the rest of the year — meant the same as the man’s name Harold. I was... Read more »

Rejoice in the Lord always -- advice from Saint Paul for Thanksgiving

Rejoice in the Lord always -- advice from Saint Paul for Thanksgiving
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your... Read more »
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'The Story of English' -- Next year's words

'The Story of English' -- Next year's words
Here, as the last installment of our look at “The Story of English,” is a look at the book’s Epilogue, “Next Year’s Words.” Life has butted its way into my plans for this instalment; other words and expressions appeared that were easier to write about, so I went ahead with those. But I don’t feel alone... Read more »

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 »
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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 »