Category: Effective Writing

Navigating Negative Constructions

Posted on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, at 11:00 pm

The negative construction in English: We need it to state something is incorrect or not true. For example, if we look into a clear sky, we have the verbal component to express It is not raining. At the same time, English teachers and communication coaches will advise us to use negative constructions with care and restraint …

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The Media Made Me Do It

Posted on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, at 11:00 pm

I heard from a correspondent who hates the phrase gone missing. His e-mail called it an "ear-abrading" and "vulgar" usage. "Sends me right round the bend, mate!" he said. I did a little digging and found that he's far from alone. "Gone missing," according to a word nerd at the Boston Globe, is "the least …

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Checking In on Worn-Out Words and Phrases: First Quarter 2019

Posted on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at 11:00 pm

"Nature abhors a vacuum," Aristotle once said, and the same holds true for language. If we detect an empty lexical space because we feel existing words no longer occupy it well, we will look to fill it, often with something that seems or sounds fresh within our current culture and era. For a time, we …

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A Real Feather-Ruffler

Posted on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Up until the late eighteenth century, Brits spoke with an American accent. So says the noted language scholar Patricia T. O’Conner. The “English” accent as we know it didn’t develop until the late 1700s. That’s when British snobs started doing things like dropping r’s, adding and subtracting h’s, saying “pahst” instead of “past,” and “sec-ra-tree” and “mill-a-tree” …

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Notwithstanding, Can We Withstand Confusion of Meaning?

Posted on Tuesday, January 22, 2019, at 11:00 pm

Developing a rich vocabulary through the reading and writing of English adds color to our thoughts, our speech, and our lives. Through a growing lexicon, we convey and connect to others with clearer intention and meaning using greater precision and eloquence. We also sharpen our ability to see relationships among words by understanding their roots, …

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