Category: Effective Writing

More Mangled Language and Pompous Usages to Avoid

Posted on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 10:40 am

This column is mostly concerned about the written word, but even so, pronunciation will inevitably enter the picture from time to time. The expressions chomping at the bit and stomping ground are both corruptions of the original champing and stamping. People find this incredible. But, for instance, consult the 1961 cult-favorite western film One-Eyed Jacks, …

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The Word Nerd: Six Pitfalls Writers (and Others) Should Avoid

Posted on Monday, January 28, 2013, at 1:50 pm

That’s right, I admit it. I’m a word nerd. I pick, pick, pick at the way you express yourself. Despite protests of apathy, people of all ages care about how well they express themselves. Deep down, everyone likes to be right about language, and you can even hear little kids teasing each other about talking …

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Stubborn Stinkaroos

Posted on Saturday, November 24, 2012, at 12:52 pm

This election year’s political dialogue has divided the country into the obscenely ultra-rich one percent and the ninety-nine percent who comprise the poor, the shrinking middle class and the, I guess you could say, tastefully affluent. Compare that with the literary one-percenters, a mulish minority of nitpickers who believe “proper” speaking and writing preserve English’s …

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That’s what that means?

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2012, at 6:47 pm

I know many avid readers, and I wish I read as much as they do. But to my surprise, very few of them read with a dictionary on hand. When I ask why, the answer is some variation on “It ruins the mood” or “I want to relax, not study” or the most self-deluded one: …

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Spell Check Overreach

Posted on Tuesday, September 25, 2012, at 1:42 pm

My spell check has been drinking again. It just told me “déjà vu” should be “deejay.” Everyone who uses Word software probably has some form of spell check. Mine—I call him “SC”—also makes occasionally helpful (but often just surreal) suggestions about grammar and punctuation. To be fair, SC sometimes saves me from my own carelessness. …

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