Category: Uncategorized

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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Wails from My Inbox

Posted on Thursday, October 2, 2014, at 7:21 am

My fellow word nerds often send me cheerfully exasperated emails. I’d like to share a few of them with you … • My recent aggravation is the mispronunciation of the word “divisive” by many people I respect. They prefer to say “divissive,” with a short rather than a long i. These otherwise articulate people are grating …

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Media Watch

Posted on Thursday, August 7, 2014, at 8:13 am

• From a review of an exhibition: “The society had in their possession a card imprinted with a 1872 photograph.” Two booby prizes in one sentence: society is singular, so make it “had in its possession,” not “their.” As for “a 1872 photograph,” is that the way you would say it? The misguided decision not …

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More Ear-itating Word Abuse

Posted on Sunday, August 4, 2013, at 11:07 pm

Although Arnold Schwarzenegger’s star has faded, the erstwhile weight lifter-actor-governor hasn’t quite left the building. Recently, a phonics teacher e-mailed her exasperation with broadcasters who mispronounce the first syllable in “Schwarzenegger,” saying “swartz” instead of “shwartz.” “There IS a difference!” she said. “It’s gotten to the point that it’s like nails on a chalkboard when …

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