When Branding Undermines Spelling

Posted on Monday, April 4, 2016, at 6:32 pm

• Spring is in the air, which means that in America, major-league baseball is on the air. In San Francisco, two members of the hometown Giants’ broadcast team are former major-leaguers Mike Krukow (pronounced CREW-ko) and Duane Kuiper (KY-per). The team’s publicity department refers to these popular announcers as “Kruk” and “Kuip,” which we are …

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Autoantonyms Speak with a Forked Tongue

Posted on Thursday, March 31, 2016, at 7:29 am

An autoantonym (pronounced auto-ANTA-nim) is a word with two opposite meanings. A familiar example is the Hawaiian word aloha, which means both “hello” and “goodbye.” Autoantonyms (also known as contranyms, contronyms, and Janus words) are not rare. We see, hear, and use them all the time. Too often, miscommunication ensues. It’s awful when you think you said “purple” but the whole world …

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Spell Well, and Excel

Posted on Tuesday, March 22, 2016, at 10:38 am

Take care that you never spell a word wrong. Always before you write a word, consider how it is spelled, and, if you do not remember, turn to a dictionary. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well. —Thomas Jefferson to his daughter If there are spelling and grammatical errors, assume that the …

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Pronoun Puzzlers

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at 2:17 pm

Today let’s look into a seldom-discussed subject that’s quite a mouthful: compound possessives with nouns and pronouns. Have a look at this sentence: Cesar’s and Maribel’s houses are both lovely. Note the ’s at the end of each name. This tells us that Cesar and Maribel each own their own house. But when two people …

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No Question About It

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at 3:59 pm

Let’s see if you can spot what is wrong with this sentence? On closer inspection, most of you will see that the sentence should end in a period rather than a question mark. Question marks are used only with direct questions. The sentence above certainly contains a direct question: what is wrong with this sentence? …

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