Intimate Register in the Real World

In my ongoing efforts to bring the various registers of English to light, so that writers, editors, and readers may make use of the knowledge and understanding, I’m linking to a thread from Iva Cheung that quite literally exploded on Twitter over the last couple of days, including being picked up by Buzzfeed. (How exploded did it get? She hit her tweet limit. There is one.)

Here are dozens upon dozens of terms from people’s familiolects (words they use only with their family members, or “intimate register”) for people, places, things, actions … all kinds of words for all kinds of situations.

I love that so many of them come from toddlers’ mispronunciations.

the long, cold winter (see? only one comma)

I’ve been seeing comma issues lately and I need to write about them.

Up there in the title, “long” and “cold” are what’s called “coordinate adjectives.” They modify the same noun (“winter,” in this case), so they’re coordinating their work. (Make sense? Good. Onward.) Continue reading “the long, cold winter (see? only one comma)”

Obligatory new year post

Not “New Year.” because this has next to nothing to do with the holiday that’s several days past already. Just “new year,” because in fact it is a new year.

Last year there were quite a few changes in our household, but I’m not here to talk about them. Face it; you don’t give a shit about what happens in my house. Not unless it’s editing, and especially if it’s editing YOUR project. So, don’t sweat it. This isn’t the blog equivalent of some dreadful/dreaded holiday letter.

The big change that you WILL care about, though, is that 2017 was the year in which I realized that I am a developmental editor AND a copy editor. I am both. I’m not necessarily more of one than the other. Through a couple of courses I took via the EFA, I came to understand that my natural (one might say “God-given” if one were thus disposed) tendency and style lean toward a combination of those approaches. I cannot NOT make developmental comments when I’m copy editing, and I cannot keep from noticing copy-editing issues when I’m doing a developmental edit. (I try, through calling my DE-only service a “developmental critique.” That’s as much to let the client know it’s not a full edit as it is to remind me of that fact.)

When you book an edit with me, you’re getting the best of both. You’re getting DE comments (“This plot point makes no sense to me because [whatever]” or “the characterization you established two chapters back just vanished. Here’s what happened as I see it …”) in addition to corrections and suggestions for the GUMmy stuff (if you don’t know what that is, you’re either new here or you haven’t been paying attention). I can’t work any other way.

Seriously, I can’t.

And you’re the one who benefits most from that. Lucky you.

Here’s looking toward a successful 2018 for my clients and me. If you’re not one yet, and you want to be, drop me an email. Click the hamburger menu, choose my name from the dropdown, and Bob’s your uncle.


Why use “yet” in this phrase?

I saw a billboard the other day advertising the House on the Rock. If you’ve been there, you know what it’s like. If you haven’t, perhaps you’ll make plans to go. Fans of American Gods know about it, thanks to Neil Gaiman’s interest in it. And yet …

The billboard exclaimed “AMAZING YET INDESCRIBABLE”.


Why use “yet” there? Isn’t it logical, sensible even, that something amazing could also be indescribable? Used as a conjunction, “yet” means “but” or “though.” “Amazing BUT indescribable”? “Amazing THOUGH indescribable”?

WHY? I must have pondered this for a good ten minutes or so after seeing the sign.

I still don’t have a good answer.