WE HEAR IT AND WE SAY IT . . . INCORRECTLY! We usually hear "fortay" when people say "forte," an almost universally mispronounced word! I can't say it's a part of everyone's daily vocabulary, but if you read enough you'll come across it regularly. I'm writing this because it was used in a couple of movies that we watched recently. Unfortunately, while the word and its mispronunciation in both films stuck in my head, the titles of the two movies did not. Before we address the near universal mismouthing of forte, we need a definition of the word. In modern usage, forte is a… Continue Reading my forte is not my fortay, it's just my fort
REGARDING POSTING ONLNE, in response to having the official Elvis Presley website at Graceland picking up one of my articles—which I trumpeted loudly to family and friends via Facebook and email—my friend Stephanie Locke posted a nice comment on my A Touch Of Gold site: "Good to see Umphred back in print." Instead of simply accepting the comment, I responded with, "Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t consider being published online as being in print. In fact, I don’t even think the word publish should be used for online articles. I think I’ll write a short piece on the topic and… Continue Reading posting online ain't the same as being in print
WILLIAM STRUNK JR was Professor of English at Cornell University. In 1918, he self-published a guide for his students on English usage and writing called The Elements Of Style. The slim book consisted primarily of eight "elementary rules of usage" and ten "elementary principles of composition" accompanied by a "few matters of form.' It urged vigorous and concise writing. Strunk's students referred to The Elements Of Style as "The Little Book," as if was less than fifty pages long. Its stated purpose was "to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention on a few essentials, the rules of usage,… Continue Reading on william strunk and vigorously concise writing
ASIDE FROM MY OWN WORK, I have edited several books and many articles for others. I have no formal training in, merely study about editing. I never used the field's accepted nomenclature or proof-reading symbols. I just used my Strunk & White and everything worked out hunky-dory for those writers! Wikipedia defines editing as "the process of selecting and preparing [articles or books] used to convey information. The editing process can involve correction, organization, and many other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate, and complete work." Wiki defines proofreading as "the reading of a galley proof… Continue Reading about editing and those confusing proofreader's marks
LAST NIGHT'S SLUGFEST—er, uh, I mean, last night's debate—consisted of ninety minutes of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton calling each other names ("liar" popped up more than once) and declaring each other untrustworthy and unfit for office. Policy differences and other matters that should concern these two candidates were set aside so that each could impugn the basic character of the other! But I focus here instead on grammar: we now live in a world where supposedly trained, professional journalists and industry associates universally misuse use alternate to describe the multiple alternative movie endings found on some DVDs, or the… Continue Reading at least hillary knows the difference between alternative and alternate
THE LAST WORD ANYONE would use to describe me is "conservative"—at least not regarding most issues related to politics. But there's more to life than politics: I remain old-fashioned on the issue of prescriptive versus descriptive dictionaries (strongly believing in the former) and the misuse of the designated hitter in major league baseball (not at all what you think). And I am adamantly conservative about the correct use of grammar and punctuation and opposed to piss poor writing in all sizes and shapes. Oh, and I still think vanilla malt shakes are yummy! 1 Nonetheless, I have subscriptions to several politically rightwinged newsletters, which… Continue Reading some (piss) poor writing about hillary's "role" in the attack on benghazi
EVERY READER OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE has seen those three dots in the midst of an otherwise normal sentence that tells them something special is happening. These dots are called an ‘ellipsis’ and are usually associated with text quoted from another source. Most readers know that these dots indicate that words in the original text have been deemed unnecessary and omitted from the quote. 1 The purpose of this essay is to clarify for readers and writers alike the way in which the ellipsis is used in professional typography and how that applies to how we use it on blogs and… Continue Reading are there supposed to be spaces between the dots in an ellipsis?