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.
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)”
I’ve written before about how I am no longer a teacher. How editors aren’t teachers. Perhaps I was hasty in making that statement (over the years–hasty like a tortoise). Continue reading “The editor as teacher”
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.
This post has been banging around in my head for a few days. I’m going to try again to get it out of my gray matter and into pixel form so I can stop thinking about it.
Perhaps I’m a bad editor, but I refuse to read the local papers’ columns by “grammar experts.” (When I say “local,” I mean local to anywhere; the tiny burg I live in has little more than a broadsheet filled with want ads, for-sale/giveaway ads, and minutes of the local school board and PTO meetings. However, the power of the internet lets me access papers from all around the country. But I digress.) Why don’t I read them? Continue reading “On peeververein and the burnishing of credentials”
I wrote about the concept of notional concord here. Refresh your memory if you like before reading farther. I’ll wait.
All right. I just encountered the following.
“Each of these disparate images have their own story […]”
The problem is that phrase “of these disparate images.” Without that, we know that “each” implies a singular thing, one item, and therefore takes a singular verb. However, as soon as we put a phrase after it that contains a plural noun, things get complicated. The MWDEU invokes Copperud and says that “notional agreement appears to be gaining ground over grammatical agreement.” Continue reading “Notional concord redux”
Here’s a link to the ACES chat I was asked to lead this past week.
Here’s another one to a post about register from a couple of years ago, for further reading.
And another one, very short, with a different angle on register.
You want more? Google is your friend. That’s how I do it.
“He began to walk across the room.”
“She started to answer.”
Why do I need to know this? Why can’t it just say “He walked” and “She answered”?
This is one of the most common issues I see in my fiction editing work. Characters are forever starting and beginning things they could, quite honestly, just do. So, when does beginning matter? Continue reading “When beginning matters”
This post isn’t about song lyrics. It’s not about pronunciation in regular speech, either. It’s about word placement.
When you use the conjunction “either” or its negative form “neither,” you need to be aware of what you’re comparing. Placing the word correctly is vital, or you end up with an illogical construction. Consider this:
“He was either too tall or those trousers were too short.” Continue reading “Ee-ther, eye-ther …”
There’s a lot of discussion (I’m trying to be neutral, here) about FBI Director James Comey’s use of “nauseous” in the last day or two.
Pedants will shout that he should have said “nauseated,” because “nauseous” is only and ever used to mean “capable of creating nausea” (like some fumes, or some votes in the US House. But I digress). Continue reading “About that word Comey used”