Category: Uncategorized

Say It Again, Sam

Posted on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, at 12:23 pm

It has been a while since our last pronunciation column, so here’s another group of familiar words whose traditional pronunciations may surprise you. (Note: capital letters denote a stressed syllable.) Antarctica  Like the elusive first r in February, the first c in this word is often carelessly dropped: it’s ant-ARC-tica, not ant-AR-tica. Err  Since to …

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Singular They Part II

Posted on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, at 4:12 pm

Despite curmudgeons’ howls, the singular they has become respectable. Many editors at the recent American Copy Editors Society conference declared themselves open to the once-frowned-upon use of they with a singular antecedent. English is an often imperfect language that makes the best of its shortcomings. We say “none are,” despite the prominent one in none, …

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Media Watch

Posted on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at 6:29 pm

Here is another bundle of woeful lapses by the print and broadcast media. • Triple trouble from an international news organization: “Garcia graduated law school in California and passed the state’s bar exam, but has been forbidden from practicing law.” Using graduate as a transitive verb here is still frowned on by traditionalists. Make it …

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Rewriting Great Poetry

Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, at 3:30 pm

The twentieth century produced no greater poet than Dylan Thomas (1914-1953). And Thomas produced no poem more powerful or impassioned than “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.” You read that right: Thomas said “gentle,” not “gently.” In the poem Thomas exhorts his dying father not to be meek when facing the end, but …

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The Elusive En Dash

Posted on Tuesday, April 14, 2015, at 3:40 pm

When a compound adjective precedes a noun it is describing, we often need a hyphen: prize-winning recipe, twentieth-century literature. If a compound adjective comprises more than two words, we use as many hyphens as are needed: a three-day-old newspaper,a dyed-in-the-wool snob. But try to punctuate the compound adjectives in these phrases: a New York based artist, a Charles …

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