Just a quick reminder: This is not the only place where I post my language ramblings. Feel free to check out AIS Writing Tips, which is associated with my job at Penn State.
Posts Tagged ‘writing’
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 21, 2013
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 20, 2013
A friend sent this along recently, and it’s worth a look (and maybe a laugh).
Posted by languageandgrammar on March 14, 2013
We at languageandgrammar.com have taken some criticism for saying things like “Dictionaries are a source of common usage, not necessarily correct grammar” (see What Does the Word Dictionary Mean?), but now that the Oxford Dictionary has added thx as an entry, we’ve been proven correct.
It’s in the dictionary, so it has to be right: That’s what we often hear when a non-word (such as drug as the past tense of drag) is used. Now, thx to the Oxford dictionary, either words don’t have to include vowels, or it is true that dictionaries are a reflection of usage, not necessarily proper grammar.
We’re not saying that dictionaries serve no purpose, but it is important to remember that they are not the final word on what is gramatically correct.
Posted by languageandgrammar on January 14, 2013
This sounds more like the wars the erupt between descriptivists and prescriptivists to me: 4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence.
Posted by languageandgrammar on September 21, 2012
We’re in the heart of election season, which means many things, one of the most annoying of which is how many people are going to say electorial instead of electoral.
You’ll hear it from your friends. You’ll hear it by television pundits (not pundints, by the way!). You’ll probably even hear it from one of the candidates.
There is no “i” in electoral or electoral college.
Now, of course, if you’re one of those people who believes that a mistake repeated often enough is no mistake–it’s new acceptable usage–then you might think electorial is a word. (Think dictionary.com, where electorial has a definition of electoral.)
P.S. Blue is my favorite color!
(Image from electoralvote.com)
Posted by languageandgrammar on August 3, 2012
I know it’s been a while, but we’re still here!
And what better way to come back from a break than by focusing on the most important way to improve communication: Keep it simple and direct.
Seriously, communication that is riddled with extra words, unnecessarily complicated language, and indirect thoughts (which seems to be every work email being sent today!) is muddled, boring, and difficult to comprehend.
On the other hand, every communication that is stripped of unnecessary words, simplified, and direct is a pleasure to read and easy to understand.
For more information, please see a writing tip that I wrote for my day job: Plain Language Is Not Boring Language.
Posted by languageandgrammar on May 1, 2012
I’m happy to report that I’ll be on Wisconsin Public Radio from 9 a.m. until 10 a.m. (Eastern time) on Wednesday, joining host Joy Cardin and listeners to discuss language pet peeves. Joy’s show is on the Ideas Network, a 19-station network serving Wisconsin and spilling into neighboring states, such as Minnesota and Illinois.
There is a live streaming option from the link above, and I’ll post the archive link when available.
Speaking of archives, this is the second time that I’ve joined Joy, with the first time being a few years ago after the book first came out. If you’re interested, you can listen to that interview on this archived stream.
It’s a good discussion, as might be expected from an NPR audience.
Posted by languageandgrammar on April 17, 2012
Although it’s often difficult to be (because of the unnecessary violence often intended to injure opponents), I’m a fan of hockey.
The hockey act that resulted in the ridiculous language example I’m about to cite is an unfortunate example of what could be a great sport; however, let us, for the moment, only look at the language use in question: Marian Hossa Was Stretchered Off The Ice After This Brutal Hit From Raffi Torres.
Stretcher is a verb? The word now means “the act of moving someone (presumably into an ambulance) while on a stretcher.”
Call dictionary.com; even they don’t have that verbification (what I called the process of turning nouns into verbs in my book) yet. Call the descriptivists who think that, as long as the meaning is understood, it’s legitimate usage. We have a new verb!
Let’s do a little conjugation of the verb stretcher, at least of the present tense:
- I stretcher
- You stretcher
- He/she/it stretchers
- We stretcher
- They stretcher
You get the idea.
If you want a new word, then simply turn a noun into a verb and you have one. You verbed it.
We certainly wish Marian Hossa the best and hope that hockey takes serious steps to remove the unnecessary violence from the game.
Posted by languageandgrammar on December 8, 2011
Lead and led are two completely different words with completely different meanings, but since the past tense of the verb form of lead is pronounced the same as the noun form of the word lead, confusion runs rampant!!
For more information, read my most recent AIS Writing Tip, Confusing Word Pair: Lead and Led.
Posted by languageandgrammar on October 18, 2011
What if someone who doesn’t like the way in which we make up new words for no reason or change the meaning of existing words as part of superficial trends finds a made-up word that accurately represents his dislike of that process?
Well, if that person is me, he writes a post about it!!
The new “word” is logomisia, and it means, according to the Urban Dictionary, “disgust for certain words or a particular word; a disgust for certain words or for a particular word.”
The word does not seem to appear in regular dictionaries or even in dictionary.com, which seems to embrace any new word or new usage of a word quickly.
Don’t feel bad. We all experience logomisia at some point–even the typical descriptivist who believes that common usage is all that’s needed to change language.
Embrace it, and go ahead–use the new “word.” You know you want to.
For the record, the new (and often useless) word is called a neologism, and the above image is a neologism from plasticbag.org.